When the U.S. Small Business Administration announced 84 winners for its Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC), four Kentucky organizations were on the list: XLerator Network ($150,000); Accelerated Innovative Manufacturing-UL ($50,000); Kentucky Science and Technology Corp ($50,000); and Inventors Network KY ($50,000).
The 2021 competition features 84 winners for the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC) and eight winners for the SBIR Catalyst competition, a new component aimed at spurring investment in underrepresented communities within the innovation economy at scale, receiving a combined total of $5.4 million in awards.innovation-focused entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs) with programs to speed the launch, growth, and scale of deep-tech small businesses across the country.
The winners come from 48 states, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia and have been awarded based on their proposals for innovative ideas that inclusively support entrepreneurs researching and developing STEM-related innovations.
Two prize tracks were run simultaneously:
- Track 1 – Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC)—The winners of the GAFC are accelerators and incubators who proposed targeted assistance to STEM/R&D entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups, including women, people of color, rural, and veteran entrepreneurs. The GAFC prize winners support a broad range of industries including clean energy, supply chain resilience, and infrastructure. Many accelerators and incubators also work to expand the participation of innovation-focused small businesses located in HUBZones. GAFC winners will each receive a $50,000 prize. Up to 84 prizes are anticipated for this track.
- Track 2 – SBIR Catalyst—The winners of the SBIR Catalyst competition facilitated eight collaborative partnership proposals aimed at building connections across entrepreneur support organizations that foster innovation driven entrepreneurs from underserved communities. The winners are recognized connectors across programs that fund innovation clusters, hubs, and other technology-based economic development initiatives. SBIR Catalyst winners will each receive a $150,000 prize. Up to 7 prizes are anticipated for this track.