SBA competitions seek to reward inclusivity in R&D

Growth Accelerator Fund, SBIR Catalyst contests accepting applications until June 25

Sba LogoThe U.S. Small Business Administration is accepting entries in its sixth annual Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, with the addition this year of a new component aimed at spurring investment in under-represented communities.

The agency said the 2021 competition as well as the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Catalyst program will recognize innovative organizations with inclusive approaches toward supporting entrepreneurs in research and development. New to this year’s competition, two tracks will run totaling over $5 million in cash prizes.

SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said the Growth Accelerator and SBIR programs “are important parts of our efforts to support high-tech, deep-tech startups by developing a network that targets the unique needs of pre-revenue, R&D-focused businesses.”

She said the focus shows the agency is “committed to equity.”

Prizes will be awarded to organizations that inclusively support under-served entrepreneurs, including women, people of color and individuals living in under-represented geographic regions.

The Growth Accelerator Fund Competition will offer prizes of $50,000 to accelerators, incubators and related entrepreneur programs proposing impactful assistance to STEM/R&D entrepreneurs. An estimated 84 prizes will be awarded this year to applicants who focus on assisting women entrepreneurs, minority entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs building technologies to address key policy issues such as clean energy and supply chain resilience and an under-served target group identified by the applicant, such as rural, veterans or individuals with disabilities.

As for the SBIR Catalyst program, seven additional $150,000 prizes will be awarded to scale collaborative partnerships and build regional collaborations in support of SBIR/ Small Business Technology Transfer applicants and awardees.

For both programs, applicants must submit a 12-slide presentation addressing the relevant elements of their track and a video narrative of no more than 90 seconds.

Competition rules, requirements and additional information can be found at Submissions are being accepted through 4 p.m. June 25. Winners will be announced in August.

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