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Funding / Venture capital

This federal program is dishing out $38M in grants for tech business growth

The U.S. Department of Commerce has opened up applications for its Build to Scale program to invest in organizations creating more economic opportunities across the nation.

The U.S. Department of Commerce. (Photo by Pixabay user Tim Evanson, used under a Creative Commons license)

The U.S. Department of Commerce is dishing out $38 million in grants for an annual program that supports entrepreneurship and tech business growth across the nation.

The Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Build to Scale (B2S) program, managed by EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, awards these grants every year to tech-focused organizations that are working to create more economic opportunities. Applications for funding opened up on Feb. 23 and the deadline to apply for the program is April 29.

“For years, the Build to Scale program has strengthened regional innovation hubs through entrepreneurship and increased access to capital, growing businesses and jobs of the future,” said Dennis Alvord, acting assistant secretary of commerce for economic development, in a statement. “The Economic Development Administration is excited to build on these efforts with the 2021 program and looks forward to receiving applications from organizations across the country committed to implementing bold and important projects supporting entrepreneurship.”

Grants for the program are spread across two categories: the Venture Challenge and Capital Challenge. The Venture Challenge category, which awards grants ranging from $750,000 to $1.5 million, is for accelerators, universities and nonprofits that support new businesses. The Capital Challenge category, which offers grants up to $400,000, is for investment funds and angel networks working to increase access to risk capital in communities. EDA will not be administering the Industry Challenge this year, which was first launched in 2020 and invested $4 million into entrepreneurial organizations and startups using ocean resources for economic growth.

Check out the B2S program site for further eligibility criteria and information.

Last year, four organizations in the DMV region secured funding in the Venture Challenge category: D.C.’s Halcyon House, which was awarded a three-year, $1.5 million grant; Martinsville, Virginia’s Patrick Henry Community College; Blacksburg, Virginia’s Roanoke-Blacksburg Innovation Network; and Baltimore’s University of Maryland Baltimore County. Halcyon’s grant went toward the expansion of its Opportunity Intensive fellowship program for local social entrepreneurs whose businesses are based in or serve designated Opportunity Zones.


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