NC IDEA is expanding its long-standing NC IDEA SEED grant program by introducing a Micro-Grant Pilot Program to award micro-grants to deserving companies not yet positioned for our traditional $50K seed grants.

Program Details

The NC IDEA SEED Micro-Grant Pilot Program will award project-based, micro-grants in the amount of $1K – $10K to young companies looking to validate and advance their idea; or if further along, validate scalability where a small amount of funding would make a significant impact. Grant recipients will also receive mentorship and assistance from NC IDEA, as well as access to its wide network of advisors, partners and investors.

NC IDEA‘s online application portal allows applicants to create an account so applications can be saved, reviewed and submitted. The application asks for details on various aspects of a company with character count restrictions requiring applicants to provide clear, concise answers. Following the deadline, applications will be reviewed by a review team and companies will be notified of their status, along with specific feedback, following the timeline below. Finalists will be invited to an in-person interview prior to selecting the grant recipients. Listen to our webinar for more information on submitting a competitive application.

Micro-Grant Pilot Program Important Dates & Deadlines

Micro-Grant Pilot Program Application Opens
Monday, April 9th

GREENSBORO Micro-Grant Pilot Program Info Session @ co//ab
Friday, April 13th at 1:30pm

Virtual Office Hours *15-Minute Sessions*
Tuesday, April 17th from 11:00am – 1:00pm

CHAPEL HILL Micro-Grant Pilot Program Info Session @ Launch Chapel Hill
Tuesday, April 17th at 12:00pm

WILMINGTON Micro-Grant Pilot Program Info Session @ UNCW CIE
Monday, April 23rd at 5:30pm

GREENVILLE Micro-Grant Pilot Program Info Session @ ECU
Tuesday, April 24th at 5:30pm

RESEARCH TRIANGLE Micro-Grant Pilot Program Info Session @ 1 Million Cups
Wednesday, April 25th at 9:00am

WEBINAR: Micro-Grant Pilot Program Info Session
Thursday, April 26th at 1:30pm
Listen to Recorded Webinar

Virtual Office Hours *15-Minute Sessions*
Monday, April 30th from 11:00am – 1:00pm
Schedule 15-Minute Slot

Virtual Office Hours *15-Minute Sessions*
Wednesday, May 2nd from 10:00am – 12:00pm
Schedule 15-Minute Slot

Virtual Office Hours *15-Minute Sessions*
Wednesday, May 9th from 12:00pm – 2:00pm
Schedule 15-Minute Slot

Micro-Grant Pilot Program Application Submission Deadline
Monday, May 14th at 5:00pm EST
No applications accepted after deadline

Micro-Grant Pilot Program Finalists Selected
Thursday, May 31st

Micro-Grant Pilot Program Grant Recipients Selected
Friday, June 15th

Micro-Grant Pilot Program Project Execution
July 1 – October 1

Check back regularly for added sessions and updated information. 


Eligibility Criteria

Our evaluation process is extremely competitive and created for ambitious entrepreneurs to accomplish specific objectives. Companies must meet the following criteria in order to be considered for the NC IDEA SEED Micro-Grant Pilot Program:

Grants are specifically targeted at young ventures based in the State of North Carolina who conduct a majority of corporate operations in the state. Companies existing in North Carolina’s rural and distressed counties are highly encouraged to apply.

Industry and Market Opportunity
NC IDEA provides funding to companies that are bringing an innovative product or business model to the market. We prefer companies addressing large, rapidly growing market opportunities that can demonstrate the scalability and ambition to achieve $1M+ in revenues within 5 years.

Companies with high capital requirements and a long runway to commercialization are less likely to be considered. Other companies that are considered out of scope and not eligible for grant funding include consulting practices or agencies; local, service-oriented small businesses (i.e. restaurants, retail stores); other “lifestyle” companies; and not-for-profits.

Stage of Development
The company’s stage of development will vary; however, the optimal stage is a company with an idea that is actively seeking problem/solution or product/market fit where $1,000-10,000 can make a significant impact. Existing businesses who are seeking to validate scalability are also encouraged to apply.

Applicants who have raised outside capital over $50,000 are less likely to be considered. In addition, NC IDEA does not fund “science projects” that have not yet demonstrated a clear potential path to commercialization.

Competitive applicants should have at least one or more fully committed team members, or have plans for one team member to achieve full-time status within the next 6 months.

Use of Funds
The purpose of this program is to provide funding for specific objectives/activities that will help high-ambition entrepreneurs validate their problem/solution with objective market data. Examples of uses of funds include, but are not limited to:

  • Customer discovery exercises
  • Prototype/MVP development
  • Travel/conference attendance
  • Infrastructure cost
  • Marketing efforts (materials and consultants)
  • Crowdfunding preparation
  • Lead acquisition
  • Modest founder stipend