SBA launches more than $100M in new funding programs to support equitable and inclusive entrepreneurship

May 27, 2021

This week the Small Business Administration (SBA) released several funding opportunities to support and promote equitable and inclusive economic recovery for entrepreneurs and small businesses. The new Community Navigator Pilot Program will award $100 million to support regional “hub and spoke” networks in providing technical assistance, training, direct financial assistance, and other services to underserved small businesses. The Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC) and the SBIR Catalyst Prize Competition (SBIR Catalyst) will provide a total of $5.25 million in funding for impactful and inclusive approaches for supporting entrepreneurs in conducting R&D.

Established by the American Rescue Plan Act, the Community Navigator Pilot Program will leverage the coordinating power of network “hubs” and the direct outreach and stakeholder engagement “spokes” to deliver services to underserved businesses, especially those owned by women, veterans and socially disadvantaged individuals. Award amounts will vary depending on the size of proposed networks and the markets they are able to serve, with total funding ranging from $1 million to $5 million per network. Entrepreneurial Support Organizations (ESOs) must apply at the following link by July 12: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=333792

The GAFC and SBIR Catalyst Competition is a two-track program. The GAFC track will infuse accelerators and incubators with additional resource capital of up to $50,000 per award to provide focused assistance to STEM/R&D entrepreneurs, including but not limited to support for company formation as well as awareness and education of the SBIR/STTR programs. The SBIR Catalyst program funds ESOs with up to $150,000 per award to act as connectors across current and future programs that fund innovation clusters, hubs, and navigators. Successful proposals will also detail efforts to align federal resources with existing state and local resources, regional strengths and economic growth opportunities. An informational pre-application webinar will be held June 2 at 2 p.m. EDT. Registration is available here. ESOs must apply for either track at the following link by July 2: https://www.sbir.gov/accelerators

sba, entrepreneurship, funding