Build to Scale

EDA’s Build 2 Scale Program Is Back: What You Need to Know

Discover the transformative potential of the Build to Scale program, learn how to navigate its application process, and understand how EcoMap Technologies can enhance your chances for success

Today, we have some exciting news that could be transformative for your organization and the ecosystem you support: the EDA’s Build to Scale (B2S) program has opened applications for its next round of funding!

In this post, we’ll be unraveling the ins and outs of the B2S program, the unique features of the Venture Challenge and the Capital Challenge, application requirements, and some critical deadlines. We’ll also explore how leveraging a tool like EcoMap can enhance your application and help to meet B2S program objectives. Let’s dive in!

Firstly, let’s get a general grasp of what the B2S program is. This initiative, funded by the Economic Development Administration (EDA), aims to support innovation-fueled, job-creating startup ecosystems. Technology-based economic development (TBED) is a phrase you will often hear when the EDA talks about its mission and this program is no different. It offers a fantastic opportunity for organizations looking to build up their capacity and help foster regional innovation. What exactly is the goal of this program? Let’s look at it in their own words:

The Build to Scale program aims to:

  • facilitate access to knowledge, capital, and networks for entrepreneurial innovators to develop products and services using emerging technologies;
  • test and amplify new approaches for entrepreneur support organizations to create inroads for underrepresented innovators to join and create successful startup teams;
  • demonstrate how diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems are integral to realizing equitable economic and job growth;
  • accelerate the growth of regional economies that are focused on industries of the future;
  • foster cross-sector partnerships necessary to bring innovations from the lab to the market through commercialization assistance; and
  • address structural barriers that prevent access to equity capital.

Show Me the Money: The Funding Opportunity

For the 2023 B2S Challenge, the EDA is providing up to $50 million in grant funding – with individual awardees receiving between $300,000 and $2,000,000 depending on the project’s scope and challenge category (more on that in a minute). This money can be used for a variety of purposes, but it’s primarily for laying the groundwork for equitable, inclusive advancement of high-growth ventures in a given ecosystem.

Two Tracks: Venture & Capital Challenge

Next, we have two exciting challenges under the B2S umbrella: the Venture Challenge and the Capital Challenge. The Venture Challenge focuses on helping ecosystems develop scalable networks to assist startups and entrepreneurs. In contrast, the Capital Challenge aims at increasing access to capital in communities where risk capital is in short supply. Then there are further subtracks within these tracks that are geared towards different stages of ecosystem development. Both of these tracks have the potential to offer the right support to an ecosystem’s needs, but it will be up to the individual applicant to understand what those needs are and chose one. This can be a little confusing at first but the EDA developed a helpful graphic and provided more information on each of these tracks’ specific purposes, linked below.

Learn more about the Venture ChallengeLearn more about the Capital Challenge

Eligibility: Who Can Apply?

This is a pretty broad umbrella of potential applicants. Taken directly from the Notice of Funding Opportunity, here are the eligible entities who can apply for a piece of this pie:

  • Indian Tribes or a consortium of Indian Tribes
  • State, county, city, or other political subdivision of a State
  • Institutions of higher education or a consortium of institutions of higher education
  • Public or private non-profit organizations or associations
  • A federal laboratory
  • A venture development organization
  • An economic development organization or similar entity that is focused primarily onimproving science, technology, innovation, or entrepreneurship
  • An entity whose application is supported by a State or a political subdivision of a state and that is: a nonprofit organization, an institution of higher education, a public-private partnership, and/or a science or research park
  • Consortia of any of the above entities

Application Requirements: What’s Needed?

Per usual for a massive funding opportunity like this, application details are tough to sum up in a few sentences. And they will vary depending on the track and subtrack you end up applying for. But broadly speaking, here is what you can expect to prepare for a successful application: 

  • A detailed project description that demonstrates the project’s alignment with the program’s objectives
  • A clear outline of the project’s goals and objectives, as well as the expected outcomes and impact
  • A comprehensive project budget, including a breakdown of costs and anticipated matching funds
  • A project timeline, including milestones and anticipated completion dates
  • Letters of commitment from project partners and stakeholders, as applicable

Mark your calendars for July 28th!

There is only one key date listed in the NOFO: July 28th. Make sure you start working on your application early in order to secure those matching commitments and letters of support!

EcoMap: Your Tool 2 Scale

Now, for those considering the Venture Challenge, let’s talk about how EcoMap Technologies can be a game-changer for your application.

Reading through the Venture Challenge mission, it’s all about building scalable systems to equitably support entrepreneurs in your ecosystem. At its core, that is what our technology enables. EcoMap is an information hub designed to support entrepreneurs, startups, and innovators. It consolidates resources, programs, and services from various providers into an easily accessible and user-friendly platform.

Here’s how EcoMap can help you align with the B2S Venture Challenge:

  1. Regional Asset Mapping: The Venture Challenge emphasizes the importance of understanding the assets in your ecosystem and how you plan to leverage them in your development strategy. Ecosystem mapping can be incredibly complex, especially as your ecosystem inevitably grows over time, so we can help you maintain accurate information about your assets.
  2. Scalable Network Development: Another key criteria of the Venture Challenge is ensuring you build with scale in mind (not suprising given the program name). EcoMap allows for the creation of regional or city-specific portals that gather all local resources in one place. This way, you’re providing a scalable network that directly aids startups and entrepreneurs in your ecosystem.
  3. Data Tracking: EcoMap provides real-time data about your local entrepreneurial ecosystem, which is invaluable for demonstrating measurable outcomes and supporting continual improvement – a key criterion of the B2S program.

Important Follow-Up Links

EDA Build 2 Scale Challenge Program Overview

2023 Build 2 Scale Challenge Application

FY 2023 Build 2 Scale Challenge Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO)

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