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2021 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition and SBIR Catalyst Competition Information

The 2021 submission period closed on July 2, 2021. Winners are expected to be announced late August 2021, and will represent innovation-focused entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs) with programs to speed the launch, growth, and scale of deep-tech small businesses across the country. 

  • Track 1 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC)—Prizes of $50,000 for efforts to provide focused assistance to STEM/R&D entrepreneurs, including support for company formation as well as awareness and education of SBIR/STTR programs. Contestants must focus their proposed efforts on one of the following groups: women entrepreneurs, minority entrepreneurs, or other target entrepreneurs identified by applicants (ie. rural, veterans, individuals with disabilities, etc.). Up to 84 prizes are anticipated for this track.
  • Track 2 SBIR Catalyst—Prizes of $150,000 to scale collaborative partnerships, strengthen ties between stakeholders (including public, private, non-profit, and academic partners) in support of SBIR/STTR applicants and awardees.  SBIR Catalyst winners will help fulfill the SBA’s mission of addressing current gaps in access to the innovation economy for communities of color, women entrepreneurs, and rural communities. Up to 7 prizes are anticipated for this track.



The Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC) was first launched by SBA in 2014 to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship across the country. GAFC prize awards have funded a wide range of accelerators and incubators in an effort to provide increased support to entrepreneurs, particularly in the STEM/R&D innovation ecosystem. Each competition has varied in total prize dollars as well as targeted groups and/or geographies.

Total prize awards since 2014 303
Total prize funds since 2014 $15,150,000
Number of competitions 2014-2020 5
Number of states/territories represented 51
Number of unique winners 222

2019 Competition

2019 GAFC Competition Details

The 2019 Competition featured sixty (60) $50,000 prize awards for accelerators working with high-tech entrepreneurs, mainly potential applicants to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Tech Transfer (STTR) programs. Winners proposed at least 60 percent of their competition-related work to entrepreneurs in one of the following groups: women; socially and/or economically disadvantaged individuals; entrepreneurs in states with lower numbers of SBIR/STTR awards; or entrepreneurs living in or whose business was located/operating in an Opportunity Zone. See competition details for more information on the guidelines, and the press release below for the list of winners.

Past GAFC Announcements

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