News & Insights

NC IDEA FOUNDATION Announces Over $1.1 Million in Grants LIVE at 2021 Ecosystem Summit

Nine NC IDEA SEED Grants and Fifteen Regional Impact Grants Awarded Across State


DURHAM, NC – November 12, 2021 – NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic empowerment in North Carolina, announced today that the organization has awarded over $1.1 million in grants during the organization’s 2021 Ecosystem Summit, coinciding with this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week. Nine NC IDEA SEED grants and fifteen Regional Impact Grants have been awarded to partners and companies across the state.

“Today we announced the most ever (nine) SEED grants awarded in one cycle, along with fifteen new partnerships,  under the auspice of our ECOSYSTEM Partner Program, intended to further strengthen the infrastructure supporting North Carolina entrepreneurs,” said Thom Ruhe, CEO and President of NC IDEA. “We are empowering entrepreneurs to reach their full potential by funding them directly and working in partnership with others that support their efforts when they need it most. These awards are yet another direct investment in the equitable startup ecosystems of North Carolina that so many people depend upon. It is a fitting way to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week,” Ruhe concluded.

Scheduled twice a year, the $50,000 NC IDEA SEED grants offer early stage companies the critical funding they need to scale faster. The funds, along with mentorship and guidance, push companies forward and reduce the risk associated with these nascent firms. Since its inception in 2006, the NC IDEA SEED grant program has awarded over $8M in non-dilutive grants to 178 innovative companies across the state, with these most recent awards being the 32nd cycle of the program.

The following nine Fall 2021 NC IDEA SEED grant recipients were chosen after a three-month competitive application and selection process that drew a record number of applications from across the state:


The Regional Impact Grants under the umbrella of NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM, were made available to existing NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM and NC IDEA ENGAGE partners to serve as the lead grantee. The solicitation required at least two organizations to collaborate on a program supporting entrepreneurs building scalable businesses, focusing on a specific region of their choosing. This particular grant program intends to strengthen the infrastructure supporting North Carolina entrepreneurs via collaboration and the sharing of resources and networks. Several of the partnerships focused on elevating Black entrepreneurship were funded under the leadership of the North Carolina Black Entrepreneurship Council (NC BEC).

The fifteen Regional Impact Grants have been awarded to the following collaborations:



Charlotte/Central Piedmont Region


Eastern NC Region


Piedmont Triad Region


Research Triangle Region


Western NC/Mountains Region


Wilmington/Coastal NC and Sandhills Region


NC IDEA is an independent private foundation committed to empowering North Carolinians to achieve their entrepreneurial potential. Through our powerful combination of competitive grants and programs, and a network of strategic partners, we help entrepreneurs when they need it most. NC IDEA’s resources are highly competitive, enabling the foundation to support North Carolina’s most ambitious entrepreneurs. We believe entrepreneurs transform communities and view our work as a catalyst for positive change. Learn more at