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SBA Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Opens January 8th to Support Innovation Ecosystem Building Across the Country

Organizations will compete in two stages for $50,000 to $200,000 in prizes, with the opportunity for bonus prizes in 2024


Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the voice in President Biden’s Cabinet for America’s 33 million small businesses and startups, announced the 2024 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC) offering a total of $50,000 to $200,000 in prize awards to organizations seeking to foster a national innovation support ecosystem to advance small business research and development (R&D) from ideas to the commercial market.  The Stage One application portal opens on January 8th for a five-week window.

 

Prizes awarded in Two Stages 

Stage One offers $50,000 in cash prizes awarded to organizations for ecosystem-building activities, including recruitment of new partners, and strengthening existing alliances among stakeholders (including public, private, non-profit, and academic partners). Contestants work collaboratively with chosen partners to bring additional resources, deepen network connections, and develop strategies to support STEM/R&D-focused entrepreneurs and small businesses. SBA welcomes Stage One submissions from a broad range of organizations with a collaborative vision to nurture a national ecosystem for equitable access to entrepreneurship. 

 

Applicants are asked to align their application with one of the following GAFC Theme Areas:

 

National and Economic Security, including but not limited to:  

  • National Security and Defense 

  • Artificial Intelligence  

  • Microelectronics 

  • Advanced Computing and Software  

  • Quantum Computing 

  • Human-Machine Interfaces 

  • Other Critical and Emerging Technologies 

Domestic Manufacturing and Production, including but not limited to:  

  • Advanced Manufacturing R&D 

  • Supply Chain Resiliency 

  • Critical and Resilient Infrastructure 

  • AgTech and Agricultural Innovation 

  • Other Supply Chain, Infrastructure, and Manufacturing Technologies 

Sustainability and Biotechnology, including but not limited to: 

  • Energy and Sustainability 

  • Biotechnology 

  • Climate and Environment 

  • Public Health 

  • Renewable Energy Generation and Storage 

  • Electric Vehicles 

  • Blue Economy 

  • Other Climate, Energy, and Life Science Technologies 


SBA expects to award up to $3,000,000 in cash prizes for Stage One and intends to announce winners for Stage One by April 2024.

 

Stage Two of the Competition offers an additional $50,000 to $150,000 in cash prizes to eligible Stage One winners to provide direct assistance to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and startups that are looking to commercialize their innovation, from R&D to the commercial market. SBA intends to announce winners for Stage Two by September 2024. A Federal agency partner may also elect to provide a Bonus Prize to one or more Stage One contestants focused on a priority area of the agency partner’s choice. Bonus Prize winners are awarded from the pool of Stage One contestants.


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