NC IDEA SEED provides $50,000 in non-dilutive funding that supports business activities to validate target markets, reduce risk associated with early stage companies and help startups grow and scale.

Grant recipients work with NC IDEA to implement a timeline with an appropriate use of funds and milestones. Grant funds are typically released over the span of 6-12 months in separate milestone-based tranches. Prior to the release of each tranche, grant recipients report on their progress. Beyond grant funding, grant recipients receive support from NC IDEA through mentorship, introductions and programming.

Application Process

NC IDEA solicits $50K seed grant applications twice per year, usually in mid-February and again in mid-August. We typically receive 150-180 applications each grant cycle. Applications are reviewed by the NC IDEA team, investors and other partners in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Companies are notified of their status and receive specific feedback on their application. From each applicant pool, approximately 20-30 companies are selected to progress to the semi-finalist phase. Semi-finalists are given a week to 10 days to complete a “full proposal” allowing them to elaborate on information provided in their original application and incorporate feedback from the reviewers. Each semi-finalist also schedules a 15-minute phone interview with NC IDEA. Approximately 10-12 semi-finalists progress to the finalist phase and are invited to pitch. Each company gives a 10-minute pitch followed by 15 minutes of Q&A. Ultimately, 5-7 companies are awarded a $50K seed grant. The below timeline includes the important dates and deadlines for our current Fall 2018 Grant Cycle.

Fall 2018 Grant Cycle

August 13 NC IDEA SEED RTP Info Session – Register

August 15 – NC IDEA SEED Charlotte Info Session – Register

August 16 NC IDEA SEED Asheville Info Session – Register

August 20 
– Fall 2018 NC IDEA SEED Grant Cycle Opens

August 20-28 – NC IDEA SEED Virtual Office Hours – Schedule

August 22 NC IDEA SEED Greenville Info Session – Register

August 23 NC IDEA SEED Wilmington Info Session – Register

August 30 NC IDEA SEED Greensboro Info Session – Register

August 30 NC IDEA SEED Winston-Salem Info Session – Register

September 10 – Fall 2018 NC IDEA SEED Grant Application Submission Deadline
*All pre-proposals must be submitted and received by 5:00pm EST (no exceptions)*

September 28 – Notifications and Semi-Finalist Full Proposal Invitations Sent

October 8 – Full Proposal Submission Deadline

October 30 – Notifications and Finalist Invitations Sent

November 5-8 – Finalist Pitch Scrub Sessions

November 9 – Finalist Presentations

November 15 – Notifications and NC IDEA SEED Grant Recipients Announced

Application Criteria

When evaluating an NC IDEA SEED grant application, we assess the strengths and weaknesses of a company across the following areas:


  • Size and significance of problem being addressed
  • Benefits, strength and uniqueness of solution
  • Risk


  • Innovation
  • Stage of development
  • Intellectual property

Market and Business Model

  • Customer profile
  • Revenue and pricing models
  • Size of market and market opportunity
  • Sales strategy
  • Competitive advantage
  • Number, size and strength of competitors


  • Stage of development
  • Current/expected revenues
  • Customer discovery
  • Accomplishments to-date


  • Quality of management team
  • Experience of management team
  • Completeness of management team
  • Commitment of team
  • Quality of advisors

Grant Request and Funding

  • Use of grant funds
  • Impact of grant funds
  • Milestones
  • Prior funding
  • Future funding potential

Preview some of the questions on the NC IDEA SEED application here. Click here for more tips and examples.

Back to NC IDEA SEED program page