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Two Eastern Pennsylvania Incubators Awarded $50K for Small Business Startups through 3rd Annual Growth Accelerator Fund Competition

Release Date: 
Thursday, September 1, 2016
Release Number: 
Robert Goza (610) 382-3084 |

EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA– the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), consisting of the Office of Investment and Innovation, Office of Native American Affairs, and Office of Veterans Business Development, along with federal partners National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and Department of Education, announced the 68 winners of the third-annual Growth Accelerator Fund Competition. 

Two of the 68 winners are from Eastern Pennsylvania: Phase 1 Ventures at the University City Science Center in Philadelphia and Ben Franklin Techcelerator in Carlisle, Pa. Each will be awarded $50,000 of a total of $3.4 million in prizes to boost their economic impact of accelerators across the nation.

“Promoting entrepreneurship is core to the President’s national innovation strategy,” said SBA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Natalia Olson-Urtecho. “We are excited to have so many Accelerators in the Region empowering and engaging organizations with the sole purpose of helping start-ups create economic growth, innovation, and inspire and empower diverse a community of great American companies.”

In making the announcement, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said: “SBA created the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition in 2014 as a way to make new connections and strengthen existing bonds within America’s small business support network, bringing entrepreneurs and innovators together and connecting them with local and national resources that support small business job creation and growth. These awards deliver on a longstanding commitment at SBA to strengthen and modernize these support systems especially in parts of the country where access to capital has been a major barrier to starting a business. This year’s winners show that our efforts are bearing fruit and further cementing our nation’s most pioneering accelerators, incubators and innovation hubs as major players driving America’s technology startup ecosystem.”

“Accelerators serve entrepreneurs in a broad set of industries and sectors – from manufacturing and tech start-ups, to farming and biotech – with many focused on creating a diverse and inclusive small business community.  Through this national competition, we are also empowering accelerators which are led by and support women or other underrepresented groups.  SBA will continue to explore ways to creatively harness this powerful network and connect startups with one another and with available government resources.  We reported to Congress 138 winners from 2014 and 2015 – made up of 5,000 companies that have raised $1.5 billion and employ nearly 20,000 people.  With the addition of the 2016 winners, the number of SBA supported entrepreneurs will significantly grow,” Contreras-Sweet added. 

The purpose of the competition was to draw attention and funding to parts of the country where there are gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. While there are entrepreneurial activities occurring nationwide, some are better supported by private sector ecosystems than others. SBA has created connections amongst the over 200 winning entrepreneurial ecosystems now part of the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition program. 

Accelerators serve entrepreneurs in a broad set of industries and sectors – from manufacturing and tech start-ups, to farming and biotech – with many focused on creating a diverse and inclusive small business community.   The 2016 competition built on the success of the previous two years by providing several different areas of funding focus for winners including: General, Small Business Innovation (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, Veteran, and Native American. 

Each organization will receive a cash prize of $50,000 from the SBA. In accepting these funds, the accelerators will also be committing to quarterly reporting for one year. They will report metrics such as jobs created, funds raised, startups launched and corporate sponsors obtained. This allows SBA to continue building upon its database of accelerators and their impact, and to develop long-term relationships with the startups and constituents in these innovative and entrepreneurial communities.

Applications were judged by more than 100 experts with entrepreneurial, investment, startup, economic development, capital formation and academic backgrounds from both the public and private sector.  The first panel of judges reviewed over 400 applications and presentations and established a pool of 200 highly qualified finalists.  The second panel evaluated the finalists’ presentations and pitch videos and selected the 68 winners.

In addition to the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, SBA’s OII supports investment and innovation in California through two nationwide programs: the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program and the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program. SBA licenses SBICs and provides $2 in government guaranteed debt for every $1 in private investment. Since the program was created in 1958, over $80 billion has been invested, helping finance 170,000 American small businesses, including companies like COSTCO, Amgen, Apple, FedEx, Staples, and Tesla and Intel. At present, 16 SBICs are located in Pennsylvania and 50 Pennsylvania small businesses received $331.1 million in financings in FY 2015 alone.

The SBIR/STTR program is a key pillar in the federal government’s strategy to provide seed capital to talented entrepreneurs in science, technology and engineering. Since its inception in 1982, the program has awarded over 158,000 awards with $43.6 billion in funding to early stage companies, including small firms that grew to become many of America’s leading large firms, such as Qualcomm, Biogen, iRobot, and Symantec. The federal government made 223 SBIR/STTR awards to 124 small businesses in Pennsylvania totaling $102.1 million in FY 2015. In aggregate since 1983, the federal government has made 5819 awards to 1533 small firms in Pennsylvania for a total of $1.7 billion.

For more information about accelerators and the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, visit:  



The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 and since January 13, 2012 has served as a Cabinet-level agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.  The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses.  Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, the SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.