The U.S. Small Business Administration recently announced its 6th Annual Growth Accelerator Fund Competition that includes a new component to spur investment in underrepresented communities within the innovation economy. The 2021 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC) and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Catalyst programs will recognize the nation’s most innovative organizations that use inclusive approaches to support entrepreneurs in research and development (R&D). New to this year’s competition: Two competition tracks will run simultaneously, totaling over $5 million in cash prizes.
“The Growth Accelerator and SBIR Catalyst programs are important parts of our efforts to support high-tech, deep-tech startups, by developing a network that targets the unique needs of pre-revenue, R&D-focused businesses,” said SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. “We are committed to equity and will award prizes to organizations that are finding ways to inclusively support underserved entrepreneurs – including women, people of color, and individuals living in underrepresented geographic regions – so that they can participate, contribute, and benefit from the U.S. innovation ecosystem.”
Track 1 - The Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC): Eighty-four (84) prizes of $50,000 will be awarded to accelerators, incubators, and related entrepreneur programs that propose impactful assistance to STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math)/R&D entrepreneurs. Successful applicants will focus their proposed efforts on assisting the following groups: women entrepreneurs, minority entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs building technologies to address key policy issues such as clean energy and supply chain resilience, or an underserved target group identified by the applicant (i.e., rural, veterans, individuals with disabilities, etc.).
Track 2 - SBIR Catalyst: For the first time, seven additional prizes of $150,000 will be awarded through SBIR Catalyst to scale collaborative partnerships and build regional collaborations in support of SBIR/STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) applicants and awardees, fulfilling SBA’s mission of addressing gaps in access to the innovation economy for communities of color, women entrepreneurs, and rural communities.
For both tracks, applicants must submit a brief 12-slide presentation addressing the relevant elements of their track and a video narrative of no more than 90 seconds. Panels of expert judges from the private and public sector with experience in early-stage investment, entrepreneurship, academia, startups and economic development will review proposals.
Competition rules, requirements and additional information can be found at www.sbir.gov/accelerators.
The deadline for submission is 4 p.m. on July 2, 2021. Winners will be announced in August.