The NC IDEA SEED evaluation process is rigorous and extremely competitive. Companies must meet the following criteria in order to be considered for a $50K seed grant.


Grants are specifically targeted at young ventures in the State of North Carolina. Applicants must either 1) conduct a majority of corporate operations in North Carolina or 2) plan to relocate to North Carolina. Selected companies must agree to maintain the majority of corporate operations in the State of North Carolina for at least 2 years after receiving grant funding.


NC IDEA provides seed grants to innovative companies with proprietary intellectual property or other means of sustained competitive advantage that are solving large problems.

Qualified companies typically fall under one of the following business categories:

  • Biotechnology
  • Cleantech/Greentech
  • Computer/Digital Hardware
  • Consumer Products
  • Digital Media
  • Healthcare IT
  • Medical Device
  • Medical Diagnostics
  • Nanotechnology/Advanced Materials
  • Semiconductors
  • Social Media
  • Software

Companies with high capital requirements and a long runway to commercialization, such as pharmaceutical companies, 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) and other “lifestyle” companies; and not-for-profits.

Market Opportunity

We prefer companies addressing large, rapidly growing market opportunities, with a unique value proposition and a scalable business model.

Stage of Development

The optimal stage for a company is between proof of concept and first institutional funding. Ideally, an applicant will have demonstrated external validation of efficacy or utility for its intended product/service. NC IDEA does not fund “science projects” that have not yet demonstrated a clear path to commercialization.


Competitive applicants have at least one or more fully committed team member. Experience working in or on a previous startup, as well as domain expertise, is favorable as well – but not required.

Prior and Future Investment

Our funding is intended to help early stage companies accomplish specific milestones that demonstrate to investors and other funding sources that the company has high potential. Therefore, companies that have received greater than $250,000 in investment at the time of applying, particularly from sophisticated angels or institutional investors, are less likely to be considered. We do however, consider founder and “friends and family” funding differently, and such funding will not negatively impact consideration.

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