Funding / Municipal government / Startups

Arlington just approved a million-dollar fund for startup founders

The Arlington Innovation Fund will include $25,000 to $50,000 grants for early-stage startups located in the county, with a special focus on tech companies.

Arlington, Virginia in the spring. (Photo by Flickr user Ron Cogswell, used under a Creative Commons license)
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated the that minimum for Arlington Innovation Fund founders' grants is $20,000. Instead, it is $25,000. (7/19/2023, 5:53 p.m.) 

As of late last night, Arlington County officially launched a startup fund for local entrepreneurs.

The County Board just approved plans from Arlington Economic Development (AED) for the $1 million Arlington Innovation Fund for early-stage startups. Arlington previously had its Gazelle Grant program available for founders, but AED Director Ryan Touhill said that money was reallocated for COVID-19 relief. This adds to other regional funding programs, like Prince William County’s IGNITE fund and the Fairfax Founders Fund.

Touhill hopes the fund will help grow the tech community in Northern Virginia, the home of Amazon HQ2.

“It’s really to be able to put money into the overall tech community because we know that when we have events and we have opportunities for people to collide and meet, that’s how partnerships form, that’s how the community gets stronger,” Touhill told

The Arlington Innovation Fund will have two main components: a Catalyst grant and tech ecosystem support funds. The Catalyst grants make up about two-thirds of the allocated funds, with $25,000 to $50,000 grants for founders. The remaining funds will go toward funding partnerships and sponsorships of activities in Arlington to support the tech startup community, Touhill said.

Touhill added that he hopes the fund can support long-term job creation and encourage startup founders to not only start companies in the region but stay there. Ideally, he said, he’d like the Arlington Innovation Fund to be an annual program.

“We’re showing that we’re willing to commit and partner through some direct funds,” Touhill said. “I think that really shows that we’re in this for the long haul and so my hope is that Arlington’s contribution to the region, through this program, is really helping to expand us as a hub for startups in the tech industry.”

To qualify for the Catalyst Fund, startups need to meet the following qualifications:

  • Registered as an LLC, S-Corp or C-Corp with the state Corporation Commission
  • Have their primary place of business physically in Arlington
  • For-profit
  • Raised at least $25,000 but less than $500,000 in equity investments, grants, and other capital
  • Provide an executive summary or startup plan
  • Listed on property and taxes related to the business
  • A tech company

Touhill hopes that applications will open in late summer or early fall, and the county set a goal that at least half of all applicants are underrepresented founders. After submission, applications will be reviewed by a third party before final selection from AED staff.


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