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On August 4, President Barack Obama hosted the first ever White House Demo Day, and what a day it was. The content of the day is front and center of what our agency does every day.
The White House helped us put a magnifying glass on the wide-ranging talents of innovators from diverse walks of life and across the country and the small companies they lead. Our economy, especially our entrepreneurial economy is the envy of the world. For it to fire on all cylinders, we need to draw on talented Americans from all backgrounds and locations and leave no one on the bench.
The Demo Day Fact Sheet lays out amazing actions, commitments and announcements made by federal agencies and a broad swath of the private sector. The day was nothing short of astounding and SBA’s Office of Investment and Innovation was equally excited to have had a leadership role supporting the White House Office of Science and Technology.
During the White House Demo Day even, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras Sweet announced the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition’s Class of 2015 winners. She also made several other exciting announcements that the White House highlighted, which included “Startup In a Day” and “InnovateHER.”
The Growth Accelerator Fund Competition winners are located in 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and they serve entrepreneurs in a broad set of industries and sectors – from manufacturing and tech start-ups, to farming and biotech – with many focused on creating a diverse and inclusive small business community. More than 400 applications were judged by 40 experts with entrepreneurial, investment, startup, economic development, capital formation and academic backgrounds from both the public and private sector. Additionally, SBA’s Office of Native American Affairs used the competition’s framework to award prizes to accelerators focused on Native American communities and entrepreneurs.
The overarching 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 we did last year, each organization will receive a cash prize of $50,000. They in turn will be required to report metrics such as jobs created, funds raised, startups launched and corporate sponsors obtained. This will allow the SBA to continue building upon its database of accelerators and their impact, and to develop long-term relationships with the startups and constituents in these innovative and entrepreneurial communities.
The report we made to Congress draws a baseline of 2014’s fifty winners – made up of about 1,500 companies that have raised $600 million and employ nearly 5,000 people. The Class of 2015 joins the inaugural Class of 2014, which now combined is made up of 126 accelerators, incubators and other entrepreneurial ecosystem models. We expect their impact on entrepreneurs to continue to grow and intensify.
The connective tissue SBA has created among the winning entrepreneurial ecosystems will enable us to creatively harness this powerful network and connect startups to each other and federal government resources, such as the multiagency, $2.5 billion SBIR & STTR Programswhich my office oversees, the Economic Development Agency programs, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s small business focused education and outreach among many others.
Now here’s an interesting equation. Demo Day was held on 8/4/15 which happened to be President Barack Obama’s birthday. He was born in ’61.
8 + 4 + 15 + 61 = 88.
88 is the total amount of prizes we awarded totaling $4.4 million. A coincidence, perhaps?
Congratulations again to all of you!