The Loudoun Economic Development Authority announced the advancement of 12 businesses in its annual Innovation Challenge, designed to recognize local companies that are rethinking the status quo in their industries.

This year’s contest received more than 100 applications for six grants totaling $150,000, including a $40,000 first place prize and a $10,000 People’s Choice Award. The open period for voting on the People’s Choice Award starts today at LoudounInnovationChallenge.com.

The 12 remaining businesses are listed in alphabetical order according to category:

Tech Ventures:

  • ClearBeam: Dedicated to improving indoor cellular, GPS, WiFi and first-responder reception through energy efficient windows, using laser beams to etch a grid pattern on the glass.
  • HelloGov: The first full-stack federal AI company, offering solutions ranging from data labeling to modeling to customized software and consultancy services.
  • I2Pure Corp: A biotechnology company that has advanced 200 years of iodine chemistry for medical, agricultural, surface and water purification products.

Commercial Ventures:

  • The Difference Baker: A certified free-from gluten, soy, peanut, tree-nut, fish and crustacean bakery, bistro and shared kitchen space, the only one of its kind in the U.S.
  • LoudounGo: A discovery and transactional technology, partnering with local businesses to support Loudoun’s future as an agritourism destination.
  • XCAL Shooting Sports and Fitness: Ashburn’s newest sports, training and entertainment destination for shooters and fitness enthusiast of all levels.

Launch Focus:

  • Applied Impact Robotics: A robotics company eliminating the need for manned entry into crude oil tanks by using inspection robots that can clean faster and cheaper.
  • The Ballpark Loudoun: The latest in training and entertainment when it comes to all things baseball, including cutting-edge technology, training, food and atmosphere.
  • MVTi: A tech company helping people with low vision better interact with their environment and restore freedom of movement and autonomy.

Smart County Focus:

  • Cork & Keg Tours: A boutique winery and brewery tour company, providing luxurious transportation and concierge for guests exploring Loudoun.
  • Effortless Electric: A complete one-stop service for residential and commercial plug-in electric vehicle charging systems, including hardware that can charge a car in 30 minutes.
  • Frontier Kitchen: A food incubator and commercial kitchen, designed to help early stage food businesses launch into successful restaurants, food truck and other concepts.

“These distinguished businesses represent the best of #LoudounPossible innovation, providing transformational ideas within their fields. The Loudoun Economic Development Authority and Department of Economic Development work with the Board of Supervisors to promote a business environment that’s ripe for entrepreneurship and creation. Fresh ideas are worthy of investment today, because they can grow into successful enterprises and major sources of employment for Loudoun County,” Loudoun Economic Development’s Executive Director Buddy Rizer explained. “We look forward to seeing how these ideas perform in the next round.”

For the final round of consideration, selected businesses will pitch their concepts to the Loudoun EDA directors, which represent a cross-section of the county’s business leaders and economic stakeholders. After a brief presentation, directors will be encouraged to question the idea’s implementation and viability before scoring.

The highest overall score will be granted First Place, while runners up will be named in each of the four topic categories. The results of a popular vote will determine the People’s Choice Award.

“We saw an uptick in interest for the Challenge this year, with applications pouring in from all corners of the region, representative of our major industries, and inclusive of Loudoun’s diverse populations. Regardless of who wins grants, we are excited to track these businesses for years to come, as they become economic leaders for Loudoun County,” Loudoun Small Business and Entrepreneurship Manager Danelle Hayer said. “With one of the most educated populations in the U.S., we know that the next great business idea is incubating in the heart and mind of a Loudoun resident.

“If you’d like to turn your innovative idea into a business, please follow the steps at LoudounSmallBiz.org or call me at 1-800-LOUDOUN.”

Voting for the People’s Choice Award will remain open until 11:59 p.m. on July 22, 2021. Learn more and cast your vote at LoudounInnovationChallenge.com.

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