The Fort Lewis College Center for Innovation is one of 50 organizations in the country and the only one in Colorado to receive a grant as a part of the Build to Scale program, which is administered annually by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The program aims to accelerate technology entrepreneurship by increasing inclusive access to business support and startup capital.
FLC, in partnership with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and Animas Accelerator, received $748,624 from the EDA, which will be matched by an additional $748,624 in local funds. The project partners will leverage the FLC Center for Innovation as a central hub to support all levels of entrepreneurship via in-person and virtual support throughout the region. The project will foster commercialization and entrepreneurship, linking resources and innovation to maximize economic opportunity.
“We are so proud to have received Build to Scale funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration,” says Steve Elias, dean of the School of Business Administration. “In a sense, this federal funding provides proof-of-concept for what we are trying to accomplish through the Center for Innovation.”
Project partners will work together to collaborate on advancing efforts to inspire and support high-growth companies in the rural economic development region.
"The Center’s mission is to drive economic development in Southwest Colorado by creating a hub for innovation. As a result of this funding, for example, we will be better able to help launch businesses, create jobs, raise investment capital, and retain businesses in our region. This funding is similarly significant in that it will help support our commitment to Native American entrepreneurship and small business development."
“The Center’s mission is to drive economic development in Southwest Colorado by creating a hub for innovation,” Elias says. “As a result of this funding, for example, we will be better able to help launch businesses, create jobs, raise investment capital, and retain businesses in our region. This funding is similarly significant in that it will help support our commitment to Native American entrepreneurship and small business development.”
The project will provide entrepreneurs and businesses with access to information, programming, targeted mentoring, and preparation for potential capital that will allow them to launch or strengthen their companies. Services and solutions will address all stages of business development. The project will build and strengthen a regional pipeline of more qualified and diverse business professionals and entrepreneurs, ultimately resulting in more high-wage jobs and a more resilient regional economy.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo announced that 50 organizations — including nonprofits, institutions of higher education, state government agencies, and other entrepreneurship-focused organizations — from 26 states will receive grants totaling $36.5 million to support programs that fuel innovation and tech-based economic development.
“The Build to Scale program strengthens entrepreneurial ecosystems across the country that are essential in the Biden Administration’s efforts to build back better,” says Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “This work is critical in developing the innovation and entrepreneurship our country needs to build back better and increase American competitiveness on the global stage.”
Castillo announced the Build to Scale grantees at TechTown Detroit, an entrepreneurial incubator and accelerator in Detroit, Michigan, that is one of the 2021 recipients of the grants. Representatives from Automation Alley, an Industry 4.0 knowledge center in Troy, Michigan, that also received a 2021 grant, joined the event, along with local dignitaries.
“EDA is proud to support this year’s Build to Scale grantees as they fuel regional innovation hubs throughout the country,” says Castillo. “Investing in scalable startups and creating access to capital will yield more economic opportunities and support the next generation of industry-leading companies. This is the type of vital work that President Biden’s build back better agenda promises to continue to support.”
The 2021 awardees will leverage an additional $40 million in matching funds from a variety of private and public sector sources. These EDA investments support aerospace, agtech, blue economy, bioscience, advanced manufacturing, and health technology clusters in regions throughout the U.S. and will lead to stronger, more resilient economies across the country.
The FY21 Build to Scale program was comprised of two competitions—the Venture Challenge and the Capital Challenge. FLC Center for Innovation is a Venture Challenge recipient.
- The Venture Challenge seeks to leverage regional competitive strengths to accelerate innovation and job creation through high-growth technology entrepreneurship and fostering inclusive access to proven entrepreneurship support models. For example, grantee Automation Alley will use their grant to expand its Michigan Industry 4.0 (MI4.0) Accelerator, which provides resources to support startups developing Industry 4.0 technologies to digitize manufacturing and to support Michigan’s manufacturers in adopting these technologies.
- The Capital Challenge increases access to capital in communities where risk capital is in short supply by providing operational support for early-stage investment funds, angel capital networks, or investor training programs that focus on both traditional and hybrid equity-based models. For example, TechTown Detroit will use its grant to recruit and train 200 angel investors to support the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem with the goal of supporting 50 projects, totaling $34.7 million in early-stage capital.
View the full list of 2021 Venture Challenge and Capital Challenge Grant recipients.