Small Business Association's Growth Accelerator Fund Competition 2023 logo

Highlighting the SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition: 2023 Stage One Winners

Back in May, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) unveiled the 40 Stage One winners of the 2023 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, which aims to foster a thriving national ecosystem that advances equitable investment in innovative high growth small businesses.

Growth Accelerator Fund Competition

Back in May, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) unveiled the 40 Stage One winners of the 2023 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, which aims to foster a thriving national ecosystem that advances equitable investment in innovative high growth small businesses.

With a wide range of focus areas from National Security & Global Competitiveness to Underserved Communities, these winners, many of whom are first-time applicants, are now preparing to compete for additional funding between $50,000 to $150,000 in Stage Two of the competition.

In order to do so, they are looking to establish partnerships with other organizations interested in helping to further develop strong innovation ecosystems around the country.

The SBA has been helping to spark these partnerships by hosting networking opportunities; including an online contact directory, virtual pitch sessions, and an upcoming in-person meet-and-greet on June 21st at the TechConnect World Conference.

As an attendee of the virtual pitch sessions I was blown away by the work being done by these organizations and wanted to take a moment to highlight a few of them, along with their plans for Stage Two and beyond.

UpSurge Baltimore

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UpSurge Baltimore is a place-based ecosystem building organization focused on developing Baltimore into the country’s first Equitech city. They are also an originization that we at EcoMap are lucky to call close friends.

Led by CEO Jamie McDonald, COO Maddy Stokes, and Chief Ecosystem & Relationship Officer Kory Bailey, UpSurge Baltimore is looking to identify partners for their UpRise program. UpRise seeks to provide on-demand support for tech entrepreneurs within Baltimore through office hours, access to legal and finance advice, skill building workshops, and more.

In addition, UpSurge is looking for partners to help build out their Equitech Alliance, which aims to serve as a learning circle that can identify best practices and share resources across its members.

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Screenshot from BMore Tech Connect

As sponsors of the Bmore Tech Connect, powered by EcoMap Tech, UpSurge has been avid supporters of the Baltimore innovation ecosystem since the get-go. We are excited to see what they are able further accomplish through these  partnerships!

Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC)

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The IEDC is a public-private partnership within the state of Indiana who’s mission is to grow the state economy, drive economic development, and help businesses launch and develop within the state.

We have been fortunate enough to work alongside IEDC while developing the statewide Indiana entrepreneurship portal, ConnectIND, which IEDC plans on utilizing as a catalyst and hub for their growing coalition of ecosystem champions and partners.

Webpage with a b-reel video of successful business people
ConnectIND Homepage

The coalition will look to strategize best practices and build efficient support programs to benefit Indiana’s manufacturers researchers and developers.

We recently sat down with our friend Morgan Allen, Indiana’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystems Manager, to talk more about the platform and its future. You can check that out here.

The Florida High Tech Corridor

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Cenfluence is an initiative being led by The Florida High Tech Corridor that aims to break down silos within Central Florida through the development of clusters composed of companies from similar fields across similar areas.

After noticing a lack of visibility and support for underserved rural founders within the region, Cenfluence is focusing their efforts on building partnerships to better serve these communities through the establishment of new funding opportunities and the deployment of critical resources.

In the past year or so we’ve frequently crossed paths with Paul Sohl and the rest of The Florida High Tech Corridor squad, and have been more than impressed with the important work they’re doing down in Central Florida. Keep it up team!


venturewell logo

VentureWell is a 25+ year-old non-profit that exists to support innovators and entrepreneurs developing socially and environmentally impactful technologies. It supports entrepreneurs through the ventures that they create and the ecosystems that foster and support them.

VentureWell is looking to expand its support of underrepresented founders and diversify it’s community of innovators and entrepreneurs by building up their ecosystem partner network. Specifically, they are looking for partners that can refer innovators from their ecosystem, provide space to help host their cohorts, and help support the innovators from their cohorts through coaching and portfolio support.

As sponsors of this year’s VentureWell OPEN 23′ Conference, we got a firsthand look at the impact that VentureWell is having on the innovation community, and could not be happier to see them being recognized for their continued efforts to support entrepreneurs that are striving to make the world a better place.


Trailhead Logo

Trailhead is a non-profit startup incubator located in Boise, Idaho, aiming to democratize access to entrepreneurship through affordable co-working spaces, educational programming, mentorship, and community building.

Trailhead is looking to incorporate an accelerator program called Accelerate Idaho into Boise’s Entrepreneurship Week. In doing so, they’ll be able to provide continuity, capital and continued support for Entrepreneurship Week awardees after the event is over.

Efforts like these to transform entrepreneurship within an ecosystem from a series of one-off events into a perpetual network of support are critical, and we applaud the work that Trailhead is doing to transform Idaho into a destination for innovators.

Dominion Energy Innovation Center

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The Dominion Energy Innovation Center is a nonprofit that was founded in 2009 as a public-private partnership. Their goal is to build the net zero carbon economy in Virginia and beyond.

They’re looking for partners to help expand and support their pipeline of early stage entrepreneurs through their Building a Pipeline for Energy Startups in Virginia and Beyond program.

Identifying and supporting early-stage entrepreneurs is a key step in developing any strong industry ecosystem; thank you for engaging in this efforts, let us know if we can be of any help!

Founders Forge

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Founders Forge is a nonprofit entrepreneur center and accelerator program located in Johnson City, Tennessee, that’s looking to help solve some of the biggest issues facing rural entrepreneurs in the area through the establishment of the Appalachian Startup Alliance.

The Appalachian Startup Alliance will serve as a centralized hub to house all of the resources and programs the organization offers, allowing them to streamline their communication to underserved entrepreneurs within the community and connect them to one another.

They are looking for partners interested in both joining the alliance and sharing resources as they work to expand their network and impact.

Sounds like a great opportunity to help support underserved entrepreneurs, facilitating connections between ecosystems is vital to their continued success.

Seaworthy Collective

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Seaworthy Collective, a Miami-based blue tech and ocean innovation entrepreneur support organization and community, is working to increase access and inclusion in ocean and climate impact.

They’ve worked locally to build coalition within Miami-Dade County to drive inclusion in the blue economy, and are now looking to expand their efforts and reach in order to help the startups they support connect with the larger global ecosystem.

In order to achieve this, they are looking to grow their collective capacity by sourcing diverse talent via partnerships with organizations and universities, and through service providers that can help reinforce their current offerings.

The blue economy is playing an increasingly important role in today’s world, and we’d love to help support this important mission any way we can.

Let’s Work Together

Congratulations again to all the Stage One winners of the 2023 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition! It’s great seeing both familiar friends and faces as well as new names being recognized and rewarded for the important work they’re doing.

We applaud you all for your commitment to fostering innovation and inclusive growth within your ecosystems.

At EcoMap we’ve worked with countless organizations to help strengthen their entrepreneurial ecosystems through tech we’ve developed to make ecosystem information more accessible.

We encourage any awardees interested in partnering with us to reach out; together we can create a strong alliance and case for additional Stage Two funding to help strengthen your innovation ecosystem.

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