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NC IDEA FOUNDATION Awards $147,000 in Micro-Grants to Fifteen North Carolina Startups in Inaugural Pilot

Expansion of Long-Standing Grant Program Commits to Serving More Nascent Startups of Potential

DURHAM, NC – June 21, 2018 – NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic advancement in North Carolina, announced today that the organization has awarded over $147,000 in micro-grants to fifteen North Carolina startups in its inaugural pilot program. The NC IDEA SEED Micro-Grant Pilot Program was created as an expansion of the Foundation’s long-standing grant program to provide funding to younger, promising startups not yet positioned for the Foundation’s traditional $50K seed grants.

The fifteen micro-grant recipients were chosen from 30 finalists that had been selected from 208 submissions. Applications were accepted from NC-based startups with innovative products or business models with the potential of becoming a seven-figure company within 5 years. Particular interest was given to high-ambition startups and founders from North Carolina’s communities of color, women, rural and urban core groups.

“The overwhelming response from applicants supported our hypothesis that there is indeed demand for these smaller, project-based grants across the state and outside our traditional areas of focus,” said Thom Ruhe, President and CEO of NC IDEA. “Given the response and quality of applications, we awarded five more grants than we had originally planned. Spanning cleantech to textiles to consumer products and agtech, these grantees illustrate the vibrancy of entrepreneurship across the state,” Ruhe concluded.

The 15 NC IDEA SEED Micro-Grant recipients are:

The NC IDEA SEED Micro-Grant Pilot Program was created to award project-based grants in the amount of $1K – $10K to young companies looking to validate and advance their idea; or if further along, validate scalability where a small amount of funding would make a significant impact. Grant recipients will also receive mentorship and assistance from NC IDEA, as well as access to its wide network of advisors, partners and investors.

NC IDEA is an independent private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic advancement in North Carolina. Today, the organization fulfills this mission through multiple grant and assistance programs. NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM funds organizations across the state that execute creative programs to support entrepreneurs. Similarly, NC IDEA ENGAGE is a community-focused grant program supporting individuals and organizations that facilitate entrepreneurship activity. Over the last decade, the NC IDEA SEED program has awarded over $5.5M in non-dilutive grants to 132 high-growth companies across the state. Since 2011, over 150 companies have participated in NC IDEA LABS, formerly Groundwork Labs, to guide founders developing an idea or product. NC IDEA SOAR, a program founded in 2012, supports female entrepreneurs leading scalable businesses in raising capital through mentorship, strategic advice and connections. NC IDEA LEAD, the Foundation’s newest program, provides leadership training for founders of high-growth companies. Learn more at