Press release 23-33

SBA Announces 2023 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Stage One Winners

Opportunity for organizations to partner with Stage One winners in Stage Two for up to $5 million in total additional prizes to strengthen innovation ecosystems nationwide

WASHINGTON– Today, Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman announced the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 2023 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Stage One “Catalyze” winners to fund and build strategic ecosystem partnerships for forty organizations across the nation.  Winners and organizational partners receive an initial prize of $50,000 and are eligible to compete for an additional $50,000 to $150,000 later this summer.

 “SBA’s Catalyze winners join SBA’s extensive network of support organizations who build thriving startup ecosystems to ensure the next generation of science and technology-based innovations develop into thriving businesses,” said Administrator Guzman. “At a time when the Biden-Harris Administration is investing in American R&D, manufacturing and future growth industries, our Catalyst partners will help ensure entrepreneurs from all backgrounds can leverage opportunities. We know these investments will advance American competitiveness and help us build an economy that works for everyone.” 

By supporting connections across diverse networks, the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition aims to foster a thriving national ecosystem that advances equitable investment in innovative high growth small businesses. Stage One prizes go directly to 40 organizations that have developed strategies to speed the launch, growth, and scale of STEM/R&D-focused small businesses through inclusive approaches.

“SBA’s longstanding Growth Accelerator Fund Competition and its extensive national awardee network targets the unique needs of innovative pre-revenue, science and technology focused startups—the small businesses responsible for building and safeguarding America’s future,” said SBA Associate Administrator for Investment and Innovation,

Bailey DeVries. “It is with great enthusiasm SBA recognizes thesecatalyst” winners which will deepen and strengthen ties between local and national innovation ecosystem support organizations across all corners of our country.”

Since its launch in 2014, the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition has awarded 387 prizes totaling over $19 million to 284 unique winners across 52 states and U.S. territories. This year’s competition introduced a multi-stage approach with Stage One focused on catalyzing an ecosystem around a particular theme.  Stage One applicants represented 45 U.S. states and territories, with 70 percent as first-time applicants to the Competition.

This year’s 40 Stage One prize winners come from 30 states, including D.C. and Puerto Rico. Sixty-five percent of winners are first time applicants and 50 percent of the winning organizations specifically support rural entrepreneurs. This year’s competition focused on four theme areas with 25 percent of Stage One winners focused on National Security & Global Competitiveness, 27.5 percent on Domestic Manufacturing & Production, 10 percent on Climate & Renewable Energy, and 37.5 percent on Underserved Communities. Geographically, 17.5 percent of winners aim serve at the local/sub-state region, 42.5 percent statewide, 20 percent regionally (multiple states), and 20 percent nationwide.

Stage One Catalyze Winners

National Security & Global Competitiveness

  • Del., Delaware Technology Park
  • Ky., XLerateHealth (DBA XLerator Network)
  • Miss., Mississippi State University
  • N.H., Hannah Grimes Center
  • N.M., University of New Mexico (dba New Mexico Bioscience Authority)
  • N.D., University of North Dakota UND – Center for Innovation Foundation
  • Okla., Development Capital Networks LLC (dba UAS Cluster Initiative)
  • Texas, BioMedSA
  • Va., Virginia Small Business Development Center at George Mason University
  • Wash., Greater Seattle Partners

Domestic Manufacturing and Production

  • Calif.,  AgTech Innovation (AgStart)
  • Hawaii , Hawaii Island Business Plan Competition
  • Ill., mHUB Alliance
  • Ind., Indiana Economic Development Corporation
  • Kan., Wichita State University
  • Mass., Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives (MBI)
  • Mich., Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University
  • Ohio, Youngstown Edison Incubator Corp. DBA Youngstown Business Incubator or YBI)
  • Pa., The Business Center for Entrepreneurship & Social Enterprise
  • S.D., South Dakota Biotechnology Council (DBA: BioRise)
  • Wis., StartingBlock Madison, Inc

Climate and Renewable Energy

  • Calif.,The Orange County Center for Innovation & Social Enterprise SPC (DBA RevHubOC)
  • District of Columbia, American Council on Renewable Energy
  • Fla., Seaworthy Foundation, Inc. (dba Seaworthy Collective)
  • Va., Hanover County Clean Technology Innovation Center (dba Dominion Energy Innovation Center)

Underserved Communities

  • Ark., University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
  • District of Columbia, 2Gether International Inc
  • Fla., The University of Central Florida Board of Trustees (dba Florida High Tech Corridor)
  • Ga., Black Innovation Alliance (BIA)
  • Idaho, Actuate Boise, Inc. (dba Trailhead)
  • Iowa, The New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative, Inc. (dba NewBoCo)
  • Maine, Central Maine Growth Council Dirigo Labs Business Accelerator
  • Md., UpSurge Baltimore Community Inc
  • Mich., BBC Entrepreneurial Training  & Consulting LLC
  • N.C., NC Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce
  • Ohio, State Science & Technology Institute (SSTI)
  • Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust
  • Tenn., FoundersForge
  • Texas, VILCAP Inc (dba Village Capital)

Stage Two Competition and How to Get Involved in a Growth Accelerator Partnership

Prospective Stage Two Partners

Although Stage One Winners have been announced, the real impact of the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition comes because of partnerships, yet to be made. This year’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition aims to bring together organizations, entities, groups, and individuals beyond geographic boundaries to support innovators and innovation needed to confront the challenges of today from inequity and climate change, to supporting national defense and community-driven economic prosperity. The real opportunity is now to find a place in the innovation ecosystem.

Organizations who were not selected in Stage One, as well as diverse local, regional, and national entities from any sector or location are eligible to connect with Stage One winners to develop “Growth Accelerator Partnerships” in a bid for Stage Two prizes. 

Stage Two cash prizes of $50,000 to $150,000 will support the “Growth Accelerator Partnerships” to further develop strong innovation ecosystems to accelerate the launch, growth, and scale of diverse STEM/R&D-focused small businesses.

SBA will host three opportunities to support networking with Stage One winners:

  1. SBA is hosting an online 2023 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC) Contact Directory for potential partners to learn about and connect with Stage One Winners. The Directory will be searchable by keyword, population, and geography served. Details may be found at
  2. To facilitate connections between Stage One winners and potential partners, the SBA is hosting four virtual Growth Accelerator Fund Partner Pitch Sessions:
  • May 30         2PM ET
  • May 31         2PM ET
  • June 1         2PM ET
  • June 2         2PM ET

For organizations interested in networking to join a potential “Growth Accelerator Partnership”, sign up for one or more of the virtual Partner Pitch Sessions at The Partner Pitch Sessions are free and open to the public.

On June 21, the SBA Ecosystem Development Team will hold an in-person Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Meet and Greet at the America’s Seed Fund SBIR/STTR Spring Conference that occurs concurrent with TechConnect World Conference. For event registration visit:

For more information about the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, please visit SBA Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (


About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow, or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. Learn more at

About SBA Office of Investment and Innovation

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Investment and Innovation (OII) leads programs that provide the high-growth small business community with access to two things: financial capital and R&D funds to develop commercially viable innovations. Our work is underpinned by public-private partnerships that help small businesses on their trajectory from idea to IPO. Learn more at

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