SBA 2024 GAFC Stage One Winners, Up to $3 Million in Prizes


The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has just announced the winners of the first stage of the 2024 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC). This competition gave away up to $3 million in prizes to help entrepreneurs from underserved communities in important science and technology fields. Each winner got $50,000 in prize money for their effective and inclusive methods of promoting a successful, cooperative national innovation support network.

The winners of GAFC Stage One were chosen from a group of candidates who showed innovative ways to advance small business research and development (R&D) in three main areas: National and Economic Security, Domestic Manufacturing and Production, and Sustainability and Biotechnology. The winners come from 41 U.S. states and territories, including Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, with 65% being first-time recipients.

“SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Stage One winners join the SBA’s incredible network of entrepreneurial support organizations contributing to America’s innovative startup ecosystem, ensuring the next generation of science and technology-based innovations scale into thriving businesses,” said Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman. “In its tenth year of driving our nation’s innovation ecosystem forward, this competition provides a unique opportunity to recognize the critical importance of those who help entrepreneurs from all backgrounds access opportunities to scale and grow.”

The winners from Stage One will now have a chance to take part in Stage Two of the competition, where they can win an additional $50,000 to $150,000 in cash prizes to help move their R&D into the market. Stage Two applications will open in June, and the SBA plans to announce the 2024 winners by September.

Since it started in 2014, Growth Accelerator Fund Competition has given 427 prizes totaling more than $26 million to 314 unique winners across the U.S. and its territories.

Stage One Winners

Here are the Stage One winners:

National and Economic Security

  • Ala: The Catalyst Center for Business and Entrepreneurship
  • Calif.: Starburst Accelerator
  • Colo. Catalyst Accelerator
  • Idaho.: Trailhead
  • Ind.: Central Indiana Corporate Partnership and Indiana Center for Emerging Technologies
  • La.: Maven Scouts
  • Md: Rural Autonomous Innovation Network (RAIN), Association of University Research Parks (AURP)
  • Mich.: BBC Entrepreneurial Training and Consulting*
  • Miss.: Innovate Mississippi
  • Mo.: Codefi Foundation on Rural Innovation
  • Mont.: Early-Stage Montana
  • Neb.: Invest Nebraska
  • N.M.: University of New Mexico and NewSpace Nexus
  • Okla.: Metro Technology Centers
  • Pa.: The Crenshaw Institute of Applied Science and Technology
  • Texas: Capital Factory
  • Va.: Tambourine Innovation Ventures

Domestic Manufacturing and Production

  • Ariz.: Startup Tucson
  • Ark.: Endeavor NWA Entrepreneurs
  • Washington, D.C.: National Disability Institute
  • Fla.: Florida Institute of Technology and International Business Innovation Association
  • Hawaii: XLR8HI
  • Md.: Salisbury University – Rommel Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Mich.: Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council and BBC Entrepreneurial Training and Consulting*
  • N.Y.: FuzeHub and Southern Tier High Technology Incubator, Inc.
  • N.C: RIoT and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
  • N.D.: Grand Farm Research and Education Initiative, Inc.
  • S.C.: TechConnect
  • Utah: Utah Advanced Materials Manufacturing Institute
  • Wash.: 360 Social Impact Studios

Sustainability and Biotechnology

  • Alaska: Spruce Root, Inc.
  • Calif.: Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator
  • Conn.: The Community Foundation-Mission Investments Company
  • Washington, D.C.: Women in Engineering ProActive Network
  • Ill.: University of Illinois Research Park, LLC
  • Maine: Central Maine Growth Council and Gulf of Maine Research Institute
  • Mass.: SeaAhead, Inc.
  • Mich.: BBC Entrepreneurial Training and Consulting*
  • Minn.: RuralWorks Partners, LLC
  • N.Y.: The Research Foundation for SUNY New Paltz’s School of Business
  • N.C.: Eva Garland Consulting, LLC
  • Ohio: Bounce Innovation Hub
  • Ore.: VertueLab and Oregon Health and Science University
  • Pa.: University City Science Center
  • Tenn.: BioTN Foundation, Inc. and Native American Investment and Capital Alliance
  • Texas: Health Wildcatters and Impact Hub Houston
  • Utah: Altitude Lab
  • Vt.: LaunchVT
  • Va.: FedTech
  • W. Va.: U.S. Research Impact Alliance Corp.
  • Wyo.: University of Wyoming

*SBIR in all three theme areas.

For more information about the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition and how to connect with a Stage Two Growth Accelerator Partnership, please visit SBA Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (

Image: SBA

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Michael Guta Michael Guta is the Assistant Editor at Small Business Trends and has been with the team for 9 years. He currently manages its East African editorial team. Michael brings with him many years of content experience in the digital ecosystem covering a wide range of industries. He holds a B.S. in Information Communication Technology, with an emphasis in Technology Management.

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