EnterpriseWorks Wins $50,000 Growth Accelerator Award from SBA to Support Women Entrepreneurs

Categories : Features, Recognition & Awards
Posted on: October 7, 2019

Nationally, SBA Awards $3 Million to Accelerators and Incubators in 39 States and Territories

Release Date: Monday, October 7, 2019

CHICAGO – The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign EnterpriseWorks Incubator’s AWARE (Accelerating Women And underRepresented Entrepreneurs) Program is one of 60 accelerators and incubators that have won a U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2019 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition award. Its $50,000 award is part of $3 million the federal agency allocated across 39 states and territories to support startups and entrepreneurs researching and developing STEM-related innovations, company formation, and awareness and education on the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. Notably, the prizes are not for direct investing in the entrepreneurs’ small businesses.

“SBA’s $50,000 award to supplement the AWARE program’s training budget is geared to provide focused assistance for specific entrepreneurial groups,” SBA Great Lakes Regional Administrator Rob Scott said. “In turn, we aim to increase the pipeline of future SBIR/STTR applications and STEM-related innovations that will continue to advance this country and revitalize communities.”

The AWARE program provides entrepreneurship training, counseling, and networking resources with the goal to enhance and expand the reach of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign entrepreneurial ecosystem. Those resources include: a dedicated entrepreneur-in-residence familiar with the needs of those from underrepresented groups; small proof-of-concept grants for teams; and targeted mentorship, training, and networking opportunities.

Altogether, EnterpriseWorks incubator clients have received 424 of the SBA’s SBIR/STTR awards and have raised $1.1 billion in venture capital funding to support scientific commercialization in new small companies.

“We are thrilled to use this award to strengthen resources, mentoring, and financial support of female-founded deep-tech companies,” said University of Illinois Research Park Executive Director Laura Frerichs. “EnterpriseWorks incubator has a long history of supporting scientists and inventors in STEM fields; unfortunately, women remain underrepresented in these fields. This award adds dedicated resources for female entrepreneurs-in-residence, financial support to launch new female-founded companies, and SBIR/STTR technical assistance.”

This year’s award recipients are to focus at least 60% of their Competition-related work on entrepreneurs who are either women; socially and economically disadvantaged individuals; in states that receive less than 50% of the total annual SBIR/STTR funding; or in an Opportunity Zone.

Expert panels with entrepreneurial, investment, startup, economic development, and academic backgrounds from the public and private sector judged the approximately 200 applications for Growth Accelerator awards by reviewing each applicant’s brief presentation deck and optional two-minute video outlining the organization’s overall approach, experience working with the targeted entrepreneur group, and key evaluation metrics for the proposed plan.



About the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition

A total of $3 million was appropriated to be awarded as prizes to accelerators, incubators, co-working startup communities, or other entrepreneurial ecosystem models. Each $50,000 prize provides operational funding to the awardee for their work in supporting startup businesses. The Competition was conducted by SBA pursuant to the government wide prize competition authority known as the America COMPETES Act (15 U.S.C. 3719).  Additional information including a full list of award winners past and present can be found at www.sba.gov/accelerators and www.sbir.gov/accelerators.



SBA coordinates the SBIR/STTR programs, also known as America’s Seed Fund, which each year provides more than $3.7 billion in early stage seed capital totaling over 5,000 awards to small businesses. Eleven participating federal government agencies announce funding opportunities as either grants or contracts to address their research and development needs. Companies supported by the SBIR/STTR programs often generate some of the most important breakthroughs each year in the U.S.  Additional information about the programs, as well as past and current topics can be found at www.sbir.gov.


About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more visit www.sba.gov.