Building on Success, Updated Program Format Will Cast Wider Net for Participating Companies and Begin Accepting Applications Starting October 1st

 DURHAM, NC — September 19, 2017 — NC IDEA, an independent private foundation committed to strengthening the North Carolina economy by supporting the high potential ventures of entrepreneurs in the State, announced today that it is rebranding its Groundwork Labs accelerator program to NC IDEA LABS with a focus on increasing economic impact in North Carolina by doubling the number of companies that participate each year. Building on Groundwork Labs’ five-year record of helping founders accelerate the development of their companies, the newly named program will have a new format and will begin accepting applications for winter and spring start dates with a new application process starting October 1st.

“Groundwork Labs has helped entrepreneurs successfully progress through the critical stages of growing strong companies, and now we want to build on that success to create greater economic impact for North Carolina; by doubling the number of companies that can participate,” said Thom Ruhe, President and CEO of NC IDEA. “Of the nearly 150 companies that have participated in the program, 36 have raised more than $30 million, 17 have won an NC IDEA seed grant and seven have already achieved revenues in excess of $1 million. The name change is simply intended to align the program more tightly with the foundation,” Ruhe concluded.

Historically, NC IDEA LABS has started a cohort twice each year. Beginning in January 2018, NC IDEA LABS will start a new cohort each month, enabling the program to nearly double the number of companies that can participate each year. Each month, five new companies will begin a one-month customer discovery program. Promising companies who can be impacted by continued engagement with the program, will be invited to continue in a two-month program of intensive mentoring and help.

“This new format of monthly, rolling start dates allows us to have a program nearly year-round and enables us to more readily accommodate a company joining our program at the ideal time in its development,” said John Austin, Senior Director at NC IDEA. “In addition, we can focus our energies on the companies that continue working with us beyond the first month of the program who can best be helped by our generous network of volunteer mentors.”

Applications will open October 1st at The initial written application deadline for January and February start dates is October 30th. The application deadline for March and April start dates will be January 15th.  After reviewing submitted applications, semifinalists will be invited to interview for participation in the one-month program. Promising companies that meet requirements during the one-month program will be invited to continue in the two-month mentoring program. A live and video streamed informational session will be held Wednesday, October 18th at 11:30 a.m. at the American Tobacco Campus in Durham. Register for live or video feed at

is an independent private foundation committed to supporting business innovation and economic advancement in North Carolina. Today, the organization fulfills this mission through four initiatives. The Ecosystem Partner Grant program funds organizations across the state that execute creative programs to support entrepreneurs. Over the last decade, the Seed Grant program has awarded over $5M to 118 high-growth companies across the state. Since 2011, nearly 150 companies have participated in the Groundwork Labs startup program. SoarTriangle, a program founded in 2012 to address the proven funding gap for female entrepreneurs, formally became a foundation program in August 2016. Learn more at