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SBA Launches Accelerator Competition to Award $2.5 Million for Small Business Startups

WASHINGTON –Today, Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that the SBA is launching a $2.5 million competition for accelerators and other entrepreneurial ecosystem models to compete for monetary prizes of $50,000 each. To award the prizes, an expert panel of judges will consider each applicant’s stated mission, founding team members and business goals among other core components. The deadline for applying is August 2, 2014.

The panel will give particular attention to, and the SBA encourages, applicants that fill geographic gaps in the accelerator and entrepreneurial ecosystem space. It is well known that the most successful accelerators to date were founded on the coasts. Through this competition, we are looking to support the development of accelerators and thus startups in parts of the country where there are fewer conventional sources of access to capital (i.e., venture capital and other investors).

In addition to accelerators which fill the gaps described above, we are also seeking out accelerators which are run by and support women or other underrepresented groups. Lastly, special consideration will be given to any accelerator models which support manufacturing.

For the purposes of this competition, Growth Accelerators include accelerators, incubators, co-working startup communities, shared tinker-spaces or other models to accomplish similar goals. 

Over the coming months, SBA will be working with a number of partners such as the Global Accelerator Network (GAN) and others to host a number of Demo Days across the country. Demo Days provide opportunities for networking and the sharing of best practices among accelerators and other entrepreneurial ecosystem models. The first Demo Day of 2014 was held in Austin, Texas at the Capital Factory and concurrent with the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival.  Thirteen accelerators across multiple industries and geographies gave five minute pitches to a room full of their peers. SBA is working to develop more of these events to happen in different cities around the country in 2014. Finalists in the competition will also be participating in a Demo Day remotely, thus there is no requirement for applicants to participate in the in-person events.

To apply visit sba.gov or challenge.gov. For additional questions, contact accelerators@sba.gov.

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