WASHINGTON - Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced, after reviewing more than 800 applications, the 50 winners of the first Growth Accelerator Fund competition. The recipients represent 31 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The accelerators come from a broad set of industries and sectors - from manufacturing to tech start-ups to farming as well as a focus on a diversified range of demographic groups.
"The SBA is empowering accelerators and startups that are on the cutting edge of successful, innovative new endeavors," said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. "We’ve seen the enormous success of the accelerator model in communities like Silicon Valley. We believe we can export this type of sophisticated support structure across the country to help start-ups become commercially viable and create jobs more quickly. I want SBA to stand for 'Smart, Bold and Accessible' and these accelerators encompass all three of these goals.”
Winners were selected by a panel of seven judges who are experts in entrepreneurship, investing and business plans both inside and out of the federal government. The judges reviewed the applications and pitch videos submitted by the 100 finalists in the competition.
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 be required to report metrics such as jobs created, funds raised, startups launched and corporate sponsors obtained among other pieces of information. This will allow the SBA to create a useful database of accelerators and their impact, and to develop long-term relationships with the startups and constituents in these innovative and entrepreneurial communities.
The purpose of the competition was to draw attention and funding to parts of the country where there are gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. There are entrepreneurial activities taking place in all 50 states, but some are better supported by private sector ecosystems than others.
The first year of this contest presents an opportunity for the SBA to engage with and support organizations whose sole purpose is to help start-ups to grow, become commercially viable and have real and sustained economic impact. The SBA is going to honor the winners at a Fly-In day in Washington, D.C. in November during National Entrepreneurship Month, in partnership with the Global Accelerator Network.