SBA’s 3rd Annual Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Awards $50,000 to LA Cleantech Incubator

LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), through its Office of Investment and Innovation (OII), Office of Native American Affairs, Office of Veterans Business Development, and its federal partners consisting of the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Education, announced the 68 winners of the third annual Growth Accelerator Fund Competition.  The winners include two Los Angeles based accelerators who will receive $50,000 each out of a total of $3.4 million in prizes to boost the economic impact of accelerators across 32 states and the District of Columbia.

In making the announcement, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said:“SBA created the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition in 2014 as 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. These awards deliver on a longstanding commitment at SBA to strengthen and modernize these support systems especially in parts of the country where access to capital has been a major barrier to starting a business. This year’s winners show that our efforts are bearing fruit and further cementing our nation’s most pioneering accelerators, incubators and innovation hubs as major players driving America’s technology startup ecosystem.”

The purpose of the competition is to draw attention and funding to parts of the country where there are gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. While there are entrepreneurial activities occurring nationwide, some are better supported by private sector ecosystems than others. SBA has created connective tissue among the over 200 winning entrepreneurial ecosystems now part of the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition program.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, so the Small Business Administration’s decision to allocate resources for clean tech incubators like LACI in LA not only fosters innovation and creativity, but also grows our city’s economy and is welcome news,” said Congressman Xavier Becerra, member of the United States House of Representatives for California’s 34th congressional district and Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

Each organization will receive a cash prize of $50,000 from the SBA.  In accepting funds, the accelerators will also be committing 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 SBA to continue building upon its database of accelerators and their impact, and to develop long-term relationships with the startups and constituents in these innovative and entrepreneurial communities.

“California is home to thousands of innovators and forward thinkers.  It’s exciting that LA Cleantech Incubator had added the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program to its toolbox of resources available for our entrepreneurs,” said Victor Parker, U.S. Small Business Administration District Director for the Los Angeles District Office.

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 over 400 applications and presentations and established a pool of 200 highly qualified finalists.  The second panels evaluated the finalists’ presentations and pitch videos and selected the 68 winners.

“Accelerators serve entrepreneurs in a broad set of industries and sectors – from manufacturing and tech start-ups, to farming and biotech – with many focused on creating a diverse and inclusive small business community.  Through this national competition, we are also empowering accelerators which are led by and support women or other underrepresented groups.  SBA will continue to explore ways to creatively harness this powerful network and connect startups with one another and with available government resources.  We reported to Congress 138 winners from 2014 and 2015 – made up of 5,000 companies that have raised $1.5 billion and employ nearly 20,000 people.  With the addition of the 2016 winners, the number of SBA supported entrepreneurs will significantly grow,” Contreras-Sweet added. 

In addition to the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, SBA’s OII supports investment and innovation in California through two nationwide programs: the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program and the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program. SBA licenses SBICs and provides $2 in government guaranteed debt for every $1 in private investment. Since the program was created in 1958, over $80 billion has been invested, helping finance 170,000 American small businesses, including companies like COSTCO, Amgen, Apple, FedEx, Staples, and Tesla and Intel. At present, 28 SBICs are located in California and 196 California small businesses received $1.02 billion in financings in FY 2015 alone.

The SBIR/STTR program is a key pillar in the federal government’s strategy to provide seed capital to talented entrepreneurs in science, technology and engineering. Since its inception in 1982, the program has awarded over 158,000 awards with $43.6 billion in funding to early stage companies, including small firms that grew to become many of America’s leading large firms, such as Qualcomm, Biogen, iRobot, and Symantec. The federal government made 1069 SBIR/STTR awards to 570 small businesses in California totaling $465.2 million in FY 2015. In aggregate since 1983, the federal government has made 32,737 awards to 7,558small firms in California for a total of $8.97 billion.

For more information about accelerators and the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, visit: www.sba.gov/accelerators.