Loudoun Economic Development Awards $150,000 in Innovation Grants

2020 loudoun innovation challenge

On Monday, the Loudoun Economic Development Authority and Department of Economic Development announced four winners for the inaugural Loudoun Innovation Challenge. The three $25,000 grants and one grand prize $75,000 grant will be paid out immediately through the Economic Development Authority.

The Innovation Challenge, launched in January and closing for applications on March 31, 2020, received 71 qualified applications, in all stages of development, representing a cross-section of Loudoun’s diverse economy.

From the original pool of submissions, applications were whittled down through a comprehensive internal scoring process. The original goal of six finalists was expanded to eight after the Economic Development Authority directors concluded that there was an abundance of worthy applications.

All finalists had five minutes to make their pitch at the Economic Development Authority’s April 28 meeting. Listed in alphabetical order, here are the eight finalists:

  • Amplio
  • Bartrack
  • Calypso AI
  • Jeeva
  • Qore Performance
  • Rebion
  • ResourcePath
  • Scieto

“The high caliber of applications shows the amazing opportunities for innovation in all corners of Loudoun County,” Department of Economic Development and Economic Development Authority Executive Director Buddy Rizer said. “In addition to businesses we have worked with in the past, we were excited to see so many new faces in the pool of applicants. This is just the beginning of our work with all of these #LoudounPossible success stories.”

The grants are just one facet of the Economic Development Authority’s investment in Loudoun’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and are intended to be both a business attraction and retention tool.

“We wanted to highlight what a great place Loudoun County is to start and grow your business,” explained Economic Development Authority Chairman Mark Madigan. “This is an opportunity to elevate the profile of entrepreneurship in Loudoun. Opening this up for anyone that’s either interested in staying in Loudoun or moving to Loudoun County was important.”

2020 Loudoun Innovation Challenge Winners:

Grand Prize Winner: Calypso AI

calypso ai loudoun innovation challenge grand prize

Calypso AI is a software company that builds tools for artificial intelligence, allowing clients to rapidly develop, test, and deploy AI and data science systems that are natively secure, robust, and explainable to enhance their mission.

While the business is currently headquartered in California, the managing director for Calypso Labs, Tyler Sweatt is an Ashburn resident and handled the team’s application. If selected as a winner, he pledged to invest in Loudoun County.

“Calypso AI is excited to become a part of the amazing Loudoun County community and we could not think of a better area to establish our new global headquarters,” Sweatt said after hearing the results. “As we expand out of our first home in Silicon Valley, the access to a highly talented workforce, robust infrastructure, and diverse amenities made Loudoun an easy choice for Calypso’s headquarters location.

“We are bringing with us the backing of leading venture capital firms and the global reach of a high-growth software company. We are looking forward to growing in our new home in Loudoun while giving back to the community through partnerships, interaction with local educational facilities and school districts, and the county I’ve been proud to call home for over a decade.

“This award is the beginning of an exciting partnership and journey with a great county and we can’t wait to see where it takes us all.”

Runner Up: ResourcePath

resourcepath runner up

Resource Path is a woman-owned business in Sterling, founded by academic pathologists and molecular technologists who see the urgent need to improve the care of individuals with cancer and emerging infectious diseases.

“It is both an honor and an opportunity to be selected as a winner for the Loudoun County Innovation Challenge,” ResourcePath Medical Director D. Ashley Hill said. “It is an honor to have been chosen by leaders in the community in which we work, and to stand out among such incredible talent, all of whom are working within such a forward-looking county government.

“It is an opportunity for us to continue to further the exciting work with which we are involved and be able to help others locally in our community, and to help everyone lead more healthful lives. With our prize we look forward to being able to expand our base and our work in Loudoun County and to being an important contributor helping everyone get back to business quickly and safely.”

Runner Up: Bartrack

bartrack runner up

Bartrack has created a revolutionary beverage sensor that tracks inventory and optimizes the quality of consumer draft beer products. Using the Leesburg company’s technology, bars and breweries have realized an average annual savings of $40,000.

“Winning this award means a lot to us, as founders, but most importantly it means a lot to our team,” Bartrack Co-Founder and President Brett Danielson explained. “We have all devoted our lives to working on our dream and it means a lot to us to receive this award!

“We are excited about the years to come and will continue along the path of changing the world one beer at a time. I wanted to leave things with one of our favorite quotes from Hall of Fame basketball coach John Wooden: ‘Success is peace of mind that is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.'”

Runner Up: Qore Performance

qore performance runner up

Qore Performance, also based in Sterling, built the IceAge Ecosystem, a low-profile hydration and cooling system that provides environmental inoculation and performance enhancement for man and machine.

“Being selected as a 2020 Loudoun Innovation Challenge winner is both tremendous and humbling because Loudoun County is home to so many incredible startups and small businesses,” Qore Performance Co-Founder and CEO Justin Li said. “This is the latest of many signs that we should have not just moved here sooner, but we should have started our company here!

“Buddy Rizer, Danelle Hayer, Brian Tinsman and the whole team at the Loudoun Economic Development Authority have been incredibly responsive and supportive since the day we moved here. We couldn’t ask for better partners for the future of our company!”

 

About the Loudoun Economic Development Authority: Loudoun County, Virginia is one of the top-ranked business communities in the United States. The Economic Development Authority is one component of Loudoun County’s efforts to promote business growth and innovation in Loudoun. See how we can help you at EDA.Loudoun.gov.

 

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Really? Out of 70+ applications, you guys chose a company headquartered in San Francisco for the top award? Shameful, when there are so many local companies that are dedicated to Loudoun and as equally deserving. This is really disappointing and discouraging to local entrepreneurs. You’ve accomplished the exact opposite of what was proposed initially for these grants and seem to have bent/broken your own rules in order to make this award to a non-Loudoun firm.

    So much for fostering local innovation and encouraging start-ups in Loudoun Co. Instead, you are going to help build a business that pays taxes in California, hires people in California, and will benefit from soaking up local Loudoun talent and applying their skills to products made and sold in California. Please don’t expect positive PR or a positive reaction from the Loudoun business and entrepreneurial community.

    • Brian Tinsman says:

      Hello Chuck,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. This was a new concept this year, and something that the Loudoun EDA is excited to grow in the future. The board will consider all feedback, and we apologize for any confusion in the standards. No rules were bent or broken in awarding Calypso AI as the grand prize winner. If you check the contest rules (https://biz.loudoun.gov/economic-development-authority/innovation-challenge-guidelines/), posted in January, businesses did not need to be headquartered in Loudoun. Calypso Labs, a division of Calypso AI has been located in Loudoun since Future Tense was acquired by Calypso in 2019. They are an established Loudoun entity, paying Loudoun taxes and supporting Loudoun jobs, as stipulated by eligibility requirement #2. Tyler Sweatt, who oversaw their application, is an accomplished Loudoun entrepreneur and grew out of our ecosystem. If businesses not headquartered here won the grant, they had to commit to developing office space in Loudoun County and creating Loudoun jobs. Calypso has done both of those things and has committed to moving its headquarters from the west coast to Loudoun. This is a huge win for Loudoun. They were not the only company from outside of Loudoun to apply, but they were the clear winners in a very competitive field. Hopefully, this additional context helps.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.