The NC IDEA SOAR evaluation process is rigorous and extremely competitive. Companies must meet the following criteria in order to be considered for the program:

Primary Eligibility

The program is specifically targeted to female CEOs of scalable startups planning to raise a seed or Series A round of equity-backed funding within the next 1-2 years.


Companies must either 1) conduct a majority of corporate operations in North Carolina or 2) plan to relocate to North Carolina.


NC IDEA works with 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 participation in NC IDEA SOAR include consulting practices or agencies; local, service-oriented small businesses (i.e. restaurants, retail stores) and other “lifestyle” companies; and not-for-profits.

Stage of Development

Applicants must have clearly demonstrated external validation of efficacy or utility for its product/service and must communicate a clear path to commercialization. Preferably, the company has achieved market validation in the form of revenue or steady growth and can identify the investor appeal in their business model in preparation for conversations with investors.


Applicants will have at least one or more fully committed team member and should be able to express a clear team-building strategy for growth.