Mark Walsh was sworn in as the head of Investment and Innovation for the Small Business Administration in December of 2015. He oversees all SBIC, SBIR, Accelerator/Incubator and other growth...
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Office of Investment and Innovation | Resources
The Growth Accelerator Fund Competition
In 2014, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) launched the first ever Growth Accelerator Fund Competition. Over 800 entities applied for $2.5 million in cash prizes. Accelerators and other entrepreneurial ecosystem models competed for awards of $50,000 each. We drew a baseline of 2014’s 50 winners and reported it to Congress. That ecosystem is made up of about 1500 geographically dispersed startups across a broad array of industries that employ ~5000 people and have collectively raised over $600,000,000.
Based on that success, SBA ran a second installment of the competition in 2015 with $4 million in Congress appropriated funds awarding another 80 prizes. Additionally in 2015, SBA’s Office of Native American Affairs (ONAA) used this competition’s framework to award an additional $400,000 to ecosystems primarily dedicated to Native American entrepreneurs and small businesses.
To award the prizes, several panels composed of over forty (40) judges considered each applicant’s stated mission, founding team members and business goals among other core components.
The panel gave particular attention to, and the SBA encouraged, applicants that fill geographic gaps in the accelerator and entrepreneurial ecosystem space. It is well known that the most successful accelerators to date were founded on the coasts. Through this competition, we are looking to support the development of accelerators and thus startups in parts of the country where there are fewer conventional sources of access to capital (eg: venture capital and other investors).
In addition to accelerators which fill the gaps described above, we also sought out accelerators which are run by and support women or other underrepresented groups. Lastly, special consideration was given to any accelerator models which support manufacturing.
For the purposes of this competition, Growth Accelerators include accelerators, incubators, co-working startup communities, shared tinker-spaces or other models to accomplish similar goals.
- SBA Launches 3rd Annual Growth Accelerator Fund Competition to Award $3.95 Million for Small Business Startups - Press Release
- 2015 Growth Accelerator Competition Metrics and Results as of 12/31/20
- SBA Accelerators | A Global Lens
- Grand Slam Day for America’s High-Growth Entrepreneurial Ecosystem and Its Startups - Blog Article
- SBA Boosts Economic Impact of Accelerators with $4.4 Million in Prizes - Press Release
- 2016 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Summary
- 2014 Growth Accelerator Competition Metrics and Results as of 01/31/15
- SBA Spurs Economic Growth, Announces 50 Awards to Accelerators - Press Release
- SBA Launches Growth Accelerator Fund - Blog Article
- Ecosystem of SBA's Growth Accelerator Fund Infographic (PDF with Accessible text)