Loudoun Economic Development Announces 2021 Innovation Challenge

The Loudoun County Economic Development Authority is offering $150,000 in grants for the 2021 Loudoun Innovation Challenge, the second annual competition for entrepreneurs.

The funding is split up across six grants.

“Entrepreneurship is a key driver of the Loudoun economy, not just for investment and rapid growth potential, but also for economic opportunity and equity,” stated EDA Chairman Bernard Mustafa. “The Loudoun EDA is dedicated to supporting the Department of Economic Development’s efforts, nurturing the local ecosystem and offering direct investment into our startup community.”

The window for applications will open during National Small Business Week, at noon on May 3, remaining open for two weeks, and close at noon on May 17. After a review and pitch process by EDA directors, members of the business community, and Loudoun Economic Development staff, a first prize grant of $40,000 will be awarded.

There will also be $25,000 awards for a runner ups up for a technology venture-focused startup, a commercial venture-focused startup, a launch-stage startup, and a smart county-focused award. There will be a $10,000 people’s choice award.

“Some of the world’s most recognizable businesses were born out of an economic downturn. Coming out of COVID-19, we see the Innovation Challenge as a means for accelerating that growth within special companies, and lending support across industries in all corners of Loudoun County,” stated Department of Economic Development Executive Director and EDA Secretary Buddy Rizer.

Applicants must be a for-profit business located in or willing to invest in Loudoun County. To be eligible, each application must demonstrate how its product or service is unique and innovative, how it can create value for existing or potential customers, the potential economic benefits to Loudoun County, the potential to scale the proposed product or service offering, and any additional value to Loudoun.

Qualified applicants will be asked to provide a 5-minute video pitch for further consideration. The Loudoun Small Business Development Center offers classes and one-on-one help with how to make a pitch.

Applications must include business plans and the most recent annual financial statements, which will be reviewed by the authority’s members. Finalists will be asked to make an in-person pitch to the EDA. Winners will be announced in July 2021.

Learn more at LoudounInnovationChallenge.com.

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