Business incubator Innosphere in Fort Collins and startup accelerator Mergelane in Boulder are among 68 groups that each have won $50,000 as winners of the Small Business Administration’s third annual Growth Accelerator Fund Competition.
The winners, in 32 states and the District of Columbia, will receive a total of $3.4 million in prizes to boost the economic impact of accelerators.
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The only other accelerator in Colorado to be selected as a winner was the Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs based in Durango.
SBA administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said the competition is a way to make new connections and strengthen existing bonds within America’s small-business support network, bringing entrepreneurs and innovators together and connecting them with local and national resources that support small-business job creation and growth.
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 sector. The first panel of judges reviewed more than 400 applications and presentations, and established a pool of 200 finalists. The second panels evaluated the finalists’ presentations and pitch videos and selected the 68 winners.
In accepting funds, the accelerators will commit to quarterly reporting for one year. They will be required to report metrics including jobs created, funds raised, startups launched and corporate sponsors obtained. This will allow the SBA to continue building its database of accelerators and their impact, and to develop long-term relationships with the startups and constituents in innovative and entrepreneurial communities.
The competition is backed by the SBA’s Office of Investment and Innovation, Office of Native American Affairs, Office of Veterans Business Development, the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and the Department of Education.