UND Center for Innovation Foundation wins SBA Growth Accelerator Fund Award

Autonomous Alley to launch first UAS/Drone accelerator program in nation
Release Date: 
Thursday, September 1, 2016
Release Number: 
16-61 ND
Contact: 
Tiffani S. Clements (202) 401-0035

FARGO –The UND Center for Innovation Foundation is North Dakota’s first winner of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, announced August 31st. 

“The entrepreneurial ecosystem around the Center for Innovation is incredibly exciting and very powerful,” states Mike Gallagher, SBA’s North Dakota District Director.  “The intent of this SBA program is to support the development of accelerators and their support of startups where there are fewer conventional sources and access to entrepreneur capital like venture and angel capital,” he added. 

SBA provides Growth Accelerator awards to the nation's most pioneering accelerators, incubators and innovation hubs as major players driving America's technology startup ecosystem. There were 68 winners across 32 states, each receiving a cash prize of $50,000 from the SBA. The Center for Innovation is the first recipient in North Dakota in the three years of this SBA award program to serve tech entrepreneurs.  There were over 400 applications in 2016.

“This SBA award is a great opportunity for the Center for Innovation Foundation to launch a program called “Autonomous Alley” that is the first UAS/drone accelerator program in the nation to help UAS entrepreneurs access capital, provide venture development assistance, network with other UAS industry experts, and secure customers in the emerging drone industry,” said Bruce Gjovig, CEO and Entrepreneur Coach for the UND Center for Innovation Foundation.  “Autonomous Alley” fulfills a vision of creating new, innovative programs that help drone startups accelerate their commercialization journey thus creating new jobs and opportunities,” he added.

The Center is the home for 24 UAS-related companies, mostly drone startups or international UAS companies working to establish themselves in the emerging UAS marketplace.  “Our Center already hosts more UAS entrepreneurs than any other accelerator, incubator or entrepreneur center in the nation; and we are open to help more UAS entrepreneurs as Grand Forks becomes a national leader hotspot for UAS entrepreneur activity, especially in conjunction with the nation’s first drone business park, Grand Sky”, said Gjovig. 

For more information about accelerators and the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, visit: www.sba.gov/accelerators.