The Loudoun County Economic Development Authority has announced the dates for the 2021 Loudoun Innovation Challenge, the second-annual competition for entrepreneurs seeking to take their business to the next level.

Loudoun EDA has dedicated $150,000 in funding, this year dividing it among six total grants.

“Entrepreneurship is a key driver of the Loudoun economy, not just for investment and rapid growth potential, but also for economic opportunity and equity,” Chairman of the Authority Bernard Mustafa explained. “The Loudoun EDA is dedicated to supporting the Department of Economic Development’s efforts, nurturing the local ecosystem and offering direct investment into our startup community.”

The window for applications will open during National Small Business Week, at noon on May 3, remaining open for two weeks and closing at noon on May 17, 2021. After a rigorous review and pitch process by EDA directors, members of the business community, and Loudoun Economic Development staff, a first prize grant of $40,000 will be awarded, along with:

  • Runner up for a technology venture-focused startup ($25,000);
  • Runner up for a commercial venture-focused startup ($25,000);
  • Runner up for a launch-stage startup ($25,000);
  • Runner up for a smart county-focused award ($25,000);
  • Winner of a people’s choice award ($10,000).

To learn more, please visit LoudounInnovationChallenge.com.

“Some of the world’s most recognizable businesses were born out of an economic downturn. Coming out of COVID-19, we see the Innovation Challenge as a means for accelerating that growth within special companies, and lending support across industries in all corners of Loudoun County,” Department of Economic Development Executive Director Buddy Rizer stated. “Access to capital is always a factor in entrepreneurial success, and we look forward to investing in the next chapter of #LoudounPossible success stories.”

All successful applicants will be a for-profit business that is already located in or willing to invest in Loudoun County. To be eligible, each application must demonstrate the following:

  • How its product or service is truly unique and innovative;
  • How it can create value for existing or potential customers;
  • The potential economic benefits to Loudoun County;
  • The potential to scale the proposed product or service offering;
  • Any additional value to Loudoun.

Qualified applicants will be asked to provide a 5-minute video pitch for further consideration. To help prepare for your application and follow-up pitch, please consider the following Super Pitch classes offered by the Loudoun Small Business Development Center, and offer for 1-on-1 assistance:

  • April 13: Pitch Structure
  • April 20: Pitch Delivery
  • April 27: Online Video Pitch

Applications must include business plans and the most recent annual financial statements, which will be reviewed by the authority’s members. Finalists will be asked to make an in-person pitch to the EDA. Winners will be chosen at the discretion of the EDA and announced in July 2021.

To learn more, please visit LoudounInnovationChallenge.com.

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