Thirty-five award-winning accelerator partnerships will receive $150,000 each to help advance equitable investment in innovative startups and high-growth small businesses across several priorities, including National Security & Global Competitiveness, Domestic Manufacturing and Production, Climate and Renewable Energy, and Underserved Communities.
In 2023, the SBA introduced a new two-stage format for the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition. In May, Stage One Catalyze winners received $50,000 to build capacity and connections across the U.S. innovation ecosystem, focused on themes of National Security & Global Competitiveness, Domestic Manufacturing and Production, Climate and Renewable Energy, and Underserved Communities.
The SBA awarded 40 Stage One prizes to organizations from 30 states and territories, including D.C. and Puerto Rico, and invited them to apply for Stage Two of the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition. During Stage Two, the SBA will provide $150,000 to ecosystem partnerships led by Stage One winners to promote equitable access to resources and accelerate support to high-growth STEM and R&D-focused small businesses.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers $50,000 to $200,000 in prize awards for impactful and inclusive approaches to foster a thriving, collaborative national innovation support ecosystem to advance research and development (R&D) from ideas to impact.
By fostering connections between entrepreneurs, advisors, mentors, partners, philanthropies, corporations, investors, and other shared resources, the 2023 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC) will catalyze strategic ecosystem partnerships to build community and organizational capacity for the successful launch, growth, and scale of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)-based entrepreneurs and startups. Competition Goals:
Increase the pipeline and success of STEM/R&D-focused entrepreneurs and small businesses;
Increase the success of STEM/R&D-focused entrepreneurs in accessing capital and resources to advance their businesses;
Incentivize innovation ecosystem stakeholders to provide equitable access to resources for underserved communities and industries;
Catalyze partnerships and relationships between stakeholder groups to strengthen the national innovation ecosystem; and
Connect both new and established participants in the national innovation ecosystem
Prizes awarded in Two Stages:
Stage One: $50,000 cash prizes awarded to organizations (Catalysts) to catalyze relationships between aligned stakeholders (Ecosystem Partners) that lead to the development of Growth Accelerator Partnerships. Catalysts work collaboratively with Ecosystem Partners to bring additional resources, deepen network connections, and develop strategies that amplify the impact and success of the Growth Accelerator Partnership and the STEM/R&D-focused entrepreneurs and small businesses it serves.
SBA encourages creative models for ecosystem building. 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.
Stage Two:$50,000 to $150,000 cash prizes awarded to “Growth Accelerator Partnerships” to provide assistance to entrepreneurs that transition R&D into the marketplace. The Growth Accelerator Partnership provides startups and small businesses with additional support and resources.
SBA accepts Stage Two submissions from Growth Accelerator Partnerships; submissions are prepared jointly by Stage One Catalysts and Ecosystem Partners and organizations present their proposal to successfully accelerate the launch, growth, and scale of diverse STEM/R&D-focused small businesses.
View the recording of the GAFC informational webinar and download the webinar slides for a better understanding of competition rules and guidelines.
The application portal closed at 12pm ET on February 24, 2023.
2023 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition
The U.S. Small Business Administration launched the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC) in 2014 to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship across the country. In order to continue building a thriving national innovation ecosystem that advances equitable access to Federal funding in high-growth, small business communities, the 2023 GAFC has been designed to bolster collaborative infrastructure across entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs).
The 2023 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition will increase the pipeline and success of STEM/R&D-focused, prospective SBIR companies, innovators, and entrepreneurs via the facilitation of partnerships and relationships between ESO stakeholder groups. As a result, SBA will foster and facilitate an inclusive, accessible, and equitable innovation ecosystem for deep tech small businesses in underserved communities and industries.
Glossary of terms
Catalyst refers to the organizations submitting at Stage One Catalyze. Catalysts are Growth Accelerator Partners that build and support the Ecosystem Partnership, serving as a nucleus of resources, cultivating peer-to-peer learning, and harnessing the networks to amplify each Growth Accelerator Partner’s impact. Catalyst organizations may be Ecosystem Building Organizations (EBOs); Entrepreneur Support Organizations (ESOs); Membership or industry organizations; Nonprofit, Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) and Foundations; Academic and Research Institutions; and/or Public Institutions.
Growth Accelerator Partner
refers to organizations that collaborate with Catalysts to develop, design, and deliver the Growth Accelerator program at Stage Two Accelerate and may receive direct funding from SBA through the competition. Growth Accelerator Partners engage directly with innovative small businesses and entrepreneurs to provide valuable support, expertise, and capabilities in the specified Theme Areas. Growth Accelerator Partners may include Ecosystem Building Organizations (EBOs); Entrepreneur Support Organizations (ESOs); Nonprofit, Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) and Foundations; Academic and Research Institutions; Public Institutions; and/or the Private Sector.
Theme Areas, Including Technology/Industry Focus
Underserved Communities, including but not limited to:
Underserved Geography (e.g. rural, specific region)
Specific Historically Underserved Community (e.g. community based on gender, race, individuals with disabilities, sexual orientation, veteran status)
Small Business Job Creation and Sustainability, including but not limited to:
STEM Education, Engagement, and Workforce
Incorporating diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility into Jobs of the Future
Global and Economic Competitiveness, including but not limited to:
Domestic Manufacturing and Production
Technology or Industry Focus, including but not limited to:
AgTech, Food Security, and Nutrition
Climate and Environment
Energy and Sustainability
Supply Chain Resiliency
Critical and Resilient Infrastructure
National Security and Defense – including Biosecurity
Public Health – including Pandemic Preparedness, Cancer, Mental Health, Aging
Other critical and emerging technologies, such as those indicated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
SBA’s participation in this activity is not an endorsement of the views, opinions, products or services of any other person or entity. All SBA programs and services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis.