U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman announced the Stage One “Catalyze” winners of the 2023 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition. This national initiative will award up to $5 million in total additional prizes to fortify innovation ecosystems across the United States.
Forty organizations were selected as winners to foster strategic ecosystem partnerships in support of startup businesses. Each of these organizations, along with their partners, will receive an initial prize of $50,000. Furthermore, they are eligible to compete for an additional $50,000 to $150,000 later this summer.
Administrator Guzman highlighted the critical role of these winners in strengthening American startup ecosystems, especially during a period when the Biden-Harris administration is heavily investing in American R&D, manufacturing, and future growth industries. This initiative aims to drive American competitiveness, advancing an economy that caters to all.
The Growth Accelerator Fund Competition primarily focuses on facilitating connections across diverse networks. It aims to develop a thriving national ecosystem that promotes equitable investment in innovative, high growth small businesses. The winners of Stage One have adopted strategies to expedite the launch, growth, and scale of STEM/R&D-focused small businesses through inclusive approaches.
Since the program’s inception in 2014, the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition has awarded 387 prizes amounting to over $19 million to 284 unique winners across 52 states and U.S. territories. This year, the competition is adopting a multi-stage approach, with Stage One focusing on catalyzing an ecosystem around a specific theme. Interestingly, this year’s applicants included a diverse group from 45 U.S. states and territories, with 70 percent being first-time applicants.
The 2023 Stage One prize winners come from 30 states, including D.C. and Puerto Rico. Sixty-five percent of these winners are first-time applicants, and half of them specifically support rural entrepreneurs. The competition was focused on four theme areas – National Security & Global Competitiveness, Domestic Manufacturing & Production, Climate & Renewable Energy, and Underserved Communities.
Although the Stage One winners have been announced, the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition encourages more partnerships. The competition aims to unite organizations, entities, groups, and individuals beyond geographical boundaries to support innovators and foster innovation to confront today’s challenges.
Organizations that weren’t 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” for Stage Two prizes. The upcoming cash prizes, ranging from $50,000 to $150,000, will bolster these partnerships, strengthening innovation ecosystems, and accelerating the launch, growth, and scale of diverse STEM/R&D-focused small businesses.
The SBA will be hosting three opportunities to support networking with Stage One winners: an online 2023 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Contact Directory, virtual Growth Accelerator Fund Partner Pitch Sessions, and an in-person Meet and Greet at the America’s Seed Fund SBIR/STTR Spring Conference in June.
For small business owners, this is a tremendous opportunity. Collaborating with Stage One winners to develop Growth Accelerator Partnerships may provide an avenue to additional funding, enhanced networking opportunities, and access to resources needed to support the growth of your business in the coming years. Stay tuned for further developments in this exciting initiative.
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