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Lighthouse Labs With The Innovation Council And VCU Innovation Gateway, Wins $50K SBA Grant

Tuesday, August 25, 2015  
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Lighthouse Labs, in partnership with The Innovation Council of the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park and the VCU Innovation Gateway, has been selected as a recipient of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 2nd Annual Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, winning $50,000 to help support the expansion of the Richmond region accelerator. The award was announced Tuesday during the White House Demo Day.

"The entrepreneurial ecosystem in America is incredibly exciting and very powerful,” said Javier Saade, Associate Administrator for SBA Office of Investment and Innovation. “Administrator Contreras-Sweet and I welcome this year's Growth Accelerator Fund Competition winners and the important and inclusive work they do in support of innovative and high-growth small businesses."

Applications were judged by more than 40 experts with entrepreneurial, investment, startup, economic development, capital formation and academic backgrounds from the public and the private sector. The first panel of judges reviewed over 400 applications and presentations and established a pool of 180 finalists. The second panel evaluated the finalists’ presentations and pitch videos they prepared and selected 80 winners, handing out over $4.4 million in awards.

“This award is a testament to how working together we can increase our competitiveness and strength as an entrepreneurial region. As we advance innovation and entrepreneurship in the Richmond region, we are pleased SBA recognized the importance of Lighthouse to this effort and are looking forward to continued growth of the accelerator,” said Carrie Roth, President and CEO of the Research Park. “One of the most notable strengths of the companies who have been through Lighthouse programs are the number of female and minority co-founders. In addition, working with students in the pre-accelerator program we are helping them to determine their own destiny when they graduate from college.”

Todd Nuckols, founder of and Director of Lighthouse Labs stated, "At Lighthouse our focus is founders helping founders. With this grant we are in position to deliver on this simple vision!"

“This grant will allow us to bring on dedicated staff so we can support more startups that can grow into viable businesses that will become the future employers for our region,” added Larkin Garbee, Director of Lighthouse Labs.

The purpose of the competition was to draw attention and funding to parts of the country where there are gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. While there are entrepreneurial activities occurring nationwide, some are better supported by private sector ecosystems than others. As part of the grant requirement, Lighthouse will measure jobs created, funds raised, startups launched, and corporate sponsors obtained over the year.

“Our entrepreneurial ecosystem in RVA continues to evolve at a lightening pace, and this grant will further accelerate innovation across the region,” said Chrystal Neal, Senior Vice President of Strategy & Brand at the Greater Richmond Chamber.

"It's important that, as a community, we focus on building out the region's entrepreneurial ecosystem so we can retain the pipeline of innovation and entrepreneurial talent being produced by our community, companies, universities and more," stated Nicky Colomb, Enterprise and Economic Development Executive for VCU Innovation Gateway. "The acceleration and pre-acceleration programs administered by Lighthouse are critical pieces of that local ecosystem."

Speaking about the significance of the grant on the Richmond region, Robby Demeria, Executive Director of RichTech said, "Lighthouse Labs awarding of the $50,000 SBA Accelerator Grant is another tremendous vote of confidence from our government. Receiving this grant on the heels of Virginia's $125,000 funding sends a clear message to our community and the world that RVA is a great place for innovators, entrepreneurs, and small business."

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