We believe that our commitment to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic advancement in North Carolina is best achieved by working with partners around the state to:

  • Identify and support inspired programs and projects to help entrepreneurs
  • Foster relationships, dialog and learning between ecosystem partners
  • Better understand how we may (collectively) support more people in their ambition to start and grow companies that will strengthen the economy of North Carolina
  • Encourage more organizations and individuals to support and participate in our efforts to make North Carolina the best state in the nation to start and grow great companies


Program History

On September 8, 2016, NC IDEA announced a cohort of nine organizations (grant recipients) selected for our first NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM grant program. The nine organizations were selected from 50 applications received. The grants were 2 and 3-year durations and ranged from $75,000 to $250,000 in funding. We have subsequently added two more partners bringing the total to eleven. Meet our NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM Partners and learn more about the organizations and activities we are funding.

Over the last two years, through our relationships and activities, we have learned many interesting things about the diverse entrepreneurial ecosystems of North Carolina. Most notably, we learned there are multiple ecosystems within the state, all with varying levels of the requisite building blocks to strengthen the economy; namely, access to organizations and their programs, and access to networks and their resources. If we are to fulfill our statewide mission, we cannot do that alone from NC IDEA’s home office; we must partner with organizations who know and understand local needs.

This learning has informed our thinking for a second iteration of the NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM grant program. As such, we are currently accepting proposals from organizations executing on innovative and transformational ideas that can strengthen North Carolina’s entrepreneurial ecosystems.


2018 NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM Solicitation

For our 2018 NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM solicitation, we are particularly interested in proposals from organizations who serve under-resourced entrepreneurs building scaleable businesses. Under-resourced is intentionally vague; the lack of resources may be due to factors of geography, gender, race or limited economic means. Organizations who primarily serve audiences of high technology, venture-backable businesses are still invited to apply but are herewith informed that the number of grants targeted for that sector will be limited. It is not our intention to create funding dependencies. This effort is intended to validate vital activities and demonstrate that continuing (supporting) those activities, beyond the period of the grant, would be in the interest of the communities served.

Applicants may request any amount of funding up to but not exceeding $100,000. Scheduled payments should align with specific activities, and funding may be allocated according to milestones and scheduled payments between 12 and 36 months.



June 27, 2018
NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM Grant Application Opens

July 25, 2018
NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM Grant Application Deadline
*All applications must be submitted and received by 5:00pm EST (no exceptions)*

July 25 – August 24, 2018
NC IDEA Evaluation and Due Diligence

September 18, 2018
NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM Award Notifications


Learn more about our eligibility and evaluation criteria prior to applying.

Preview Application Template


Progress on applications can be saved and resumed and submitted at a later time. All final submissions are due via our online application form by 5:00pm EST on Wednesday, July 25, 2018. NC IDEA will not accept applications via email, fax, mail or in-person.


Back to NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM program page →