The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), through its Office of Investment and Innovation (OII), Office of Native American Affairs, Office of Veterans Business Development, and its federal partners consisting of the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Education, announced the 68 winners of the third annual Growth Accelerator Fund Competition.
Westport, CT-based accelerator The Refinery will receive $50,000 out of a total of $3.4 million in prizes to boost the economic impact of accelerators across 33 states and the District of Columbia.
According to The Refinery, less than 2.7% of venture capital funding was provided toward women-led companies for the years 2011 to 2013. In April of 2014, The Refinery was created with the goal of eliminating this gap and assisting women-led companies to develop the capabilities required to scale and raise capital.
In making the announcement, SBA Connecticut District Director Anne Rice Hunt said: “We congratulate The Refinery on their award and recognize their programs for helping grow jobs here in Connecticut.”
The purpose of the competition was to draw attention and funding to parts of the country where there are gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. While there are entrepreneurial activities occurring nationwide, some are better supported by private sector ecosystems than others.
The SBA has created connective tissue amongst more than 200 winning entrepreneurial ecosystems that are now part of the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition program.
Accelerators serve entrepreneurs in a broad set of industries and sectors—from manufacturing and tech startups, to farming and biotech—with many focused on creating a diverse and inclusive small business community.
The 2016 competition builds on the success of the previous two years and provides several different award categories, including:
- Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs
- Native American.
Applications were judged by more than 100 experts with entrepreneurial, investment, startup, economic development, capital formation, and academic backgrounds from both the public and private sectors. The first panel of judges reviewed more than 400 applications and presentations and established a pool of 200 highly qualified finalists. The second panel evaluated the finalists’ presentations and pitch videos and selected the 68 winners.
Each winner will receive a cash prize of $50,000 from the SBA. In accepting these funds, the accelerators will be committing to quarterly reporting for one year, through which they will be required to report metrics such as jobs created, funds raised, startups launched, and corporate sponsors obtained. This will allow SBA to continue building upon its database of accelerators and their impact and to develop long-term relationships with the startups and constituents in these innovative and entrepreneurial communities.
In addition to the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, the SBA’s OII supports investment and innovation in Connecticut through two nationwide programs: the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program and the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program.
The SBA licenses SBICs and provides $2 in government guaranteed debt for every $1 in private investment. Since the program was created in 1958, more than $80 billion has been invested, helping finance 170,000 American small businesses, including companies such as COSTCO, Amgen, Apple, FedEx, Staples, Tesla, and Intel. At present, 18 SBICs are located in Connecticut and 15 Connecticut small businesses received $64 million in financing in FY 2015 alone.
The SBIR/STTR program is a key pillar in the federal government’s strategy to provide seed capital to talented entrepreneurs in science, technology, and engineering. Since its inception in 1982, the program has awarded more than 158,000 awards with $43.6 billion in funding to early-stage companies, including small firms that grew to become many of America’s leading large firms, such as Qualcomm, Biogen, iRobot, and Symantec.
The federal government made 73 SBIR/STTR awards to 46 small businesses in Connecticut totaling $32 million in FY 2015. In aggregate since 1983, the federal government has made 3,114 awards to 1,374 small firms in Connecticut for a total of $765 million.
For more information about accelerators and the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, visit www.sba.gov/accelerators.