The NC IDEA SEED evaluation process is rigorous and extremely competitive. Companies must meet the following criteria and make a strong case that $50K will have a strong impact in the life cycle of the company in order to be considered for an NC IDEA SEED grant.
**Note: You may only apply to either MICRO or SEED (not both) during a grant cycle.**
NC IDEA SEED grants are specifically targeted at companies headquartered in and that conduct a majority of corporate operations in the State of North Carolina. All publicly facing materials, including website, social media, and other marketing materials and channels should identify the business as a North Carolina company. Selected companies must agree to maintain the majority of corporate operations in the State of North Carolina for at least the 12-month period following completion of the grant.
NC IDEA SEED grants are awarded to innovative companies with proprietary intellectual property or other means of sustained competitive advantage that are solving large problems.
Companies with high capital requirements and a long runway to commercialization, such as pharmaceutical companies, are not eligible. Other companies that are considered out of scope and not eligible for grant funding include consulting practices or agencies; training companies; distributors; franchises; resellers; local, service-oriented small businesses (i.e. restaurants, catering businesses, retail stores and cleaning companies) and other “lifestyle” companies; and not-for-profits.
NC IDEA SEED grants are awarded to companies addressing large, rapidly growing market opportunities, with a unique value proposition, and on a path to become a multi-million dollar company, have 50+ employees or be investable in 3-5 years.
Companies have demonstrated proof of concept (existence of a problem, market readiness and an MVP) and are prepared to leverage a $50K grant to scale the business.
Competitive applicants must have at least one full-time founder. NC IDEA defines a full-time founder as one who works 40+ hours a week on their startup and does not have regular employment at another company, including a different startup run by the founder, more than 15 hours a week. Experience working in or on a previous startup, as well as domain expertise, is favorable as well – but not required.
Companies that have revenue in the last 12 months of more than $250K are less likely to be considered.
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 growth potential. Therefore, companies that have received greater than $250K in equity investment or over $1M in non-dilutive grant funding at the time of applying 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.
The grant will enable the company to scale to the point that it could raise institutional investment, win grants or increase revenue to ensure its continued growth and sustainability.
See below for a comparison of eligibility criteria between NC IDEA MICRO and NC IDEA SEED. **Note: You may only apply to either MICRO or SEED (not both) during a grant cycle.**
|Industry and Company Type||
|Market Opportunity||On a path to become a multi-million dollar company, have 50+ employees or be investable in 5-7 years||On a path to become a multi-million dollar company, have 50+ employees or be investable in 3-5 years|
|Stage of Development||Working to demonstrate proof of concept (existence of a problem, market readiness and an MVP) to move to a quantifiable next step of validation||Demonstrated proof of concept (existence of a problem, market readiness, and an MVP) and ready to scale the business|
|Team||At least one FT team member within 6-12 months||At least one FT founder|
|Revenue||Revenue in last 12 months of $50K+ less likely to be considered||Revenue in last 12 months of $250K+ less likely to be considered|
|Prior Investment||Past investment of $50K+ equity or $1M+ non-dilutive less likely to be considered||Past investment of $250K+ equity or $1M+ non-dilutive less likely to be considered|
|Impact of Grant||Enable company to validate key assumption(s) and catalyze the development of the business||Enable company to scale to the point that it could raise institutional investment, win grants or increase revenue to ensure its continued growth and sustainability|