Economic Development Authority


Loudoun County is a unique place that has grown from a variety of diverse entrepreneurial achievement. In the eastern part of the county, an entire industry was born from internet entrepreneurs that spawned the highest concentration of data centers in the world.  This infrastructure is the foundation for one of Loudoun County’s primary technology focus and the basis for efforts to grow high tech entrepreneurship in the county. The goal of the Innovation Challenge is to promote entrepreneurship and business growth by identifying and supporting companies that are developing truly innovative products and services in Loudoun County.

The Loudoun Economic Development Innovation Challenge (“The Challenge”) is administered by the Economic Development Authority of Loudoun County, Virginia (EDA).  Applications will be accepted between May 3, 2021, and May 17, 2021.  Winners will be announced in a timely fashion after the EDA makes its decision.

In the event that an announced winner fails to satisfy any of the Terms & Conditions that Applicant shall not be entitled to receive an Innovation Grant, and the grant may be awarded to another eligible Applicant, or the grant may not be awarded, at the EDA’s sole discretion.

All materials submitted to The Challenge will be treated as public records and subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) rules and regulations. If you have questions or concerns about this requirement please contact the Department of Economic Development at 703-777-0585 before submitting your application.

Eligibility Requirements

  1. No purchase is necessary to enter or win.
  2. Applicant must have a physical location in Loudoun County and/or demonstrate a commitment to establish future office location and/or jobs in Loudoun County.
  3. Each Applicant must have at least one Principal who is a legal resident of the United States and at least 18 years old at the time of entry. Businesses owned, controlled or represented by members of the EDA or by employees or officers of Loudoun County are not eligible for entry.
  4. All businesses entered into The Challenge must be for-profit. Non-profit businesses are not eligible.
  5. Applicants must provide a Business Plan that includes your most recent annual financial statements to include: income statement, balance sheet and statement of cash flows.  Please include an explanation for any extraordinary events and/or balances, or any items you wish to explain to the reviewers evaluating the statements.
  6. Applicants must agree to be available for an in person pitch and any public announcement of The Challenge. Applicants shall authorize the EDA to utilize service marks in marketing efforts and shall participate in interviews with media at the local, state and national levels at the conclusion of the program.

How to Enter

To apply for The Challenge, please complete the application found here:


An applicant must demonstrate:

  1. How its product or service is truly unique and innovative;
  2. How it can create value for existing or potential customers;
  3. The potential economic benefits to Loudoun County, for example, highlighting increased contributions to the business tax base, jobs at or above the targeted medium income level, and other economic benefits;
  4. The potential to scale the proposed product or service offering to realize ongoing and growing benefits to Loudoun County;
  5. How its product or service meets the category it is applying for, based on the definitions provided:
    1. Tech Ventures category: Tech Ventures have new proprietary technology, discovery, or innovation at their core. These ventures should have an intellectual property component and evidence that it will work in the real world.
    2. Commercial Ventures category: Commercial Ventures include services, products, or businesses that take a unique approach to solving an opportunity in the market while driving substantial market impact.
    3. Launch Focus category: Launch Focus showcases and provides capital to the most compelling pre-revenue ventures. Applicants at this point can provide evidence of real customer and/or stakeholder demand and can provide a vision for how the venture could become a sustainable business.
    4. Smart County category: Smart County Focus provides help to counties to grow, operate, and meet population demands over the coming decades. The Smart County Runner Up will innovate in any of the following sectors: housing, transportation, health, water, broadband, education and infrastructure.
  6. Any additional value to Loudoun.

Selection Process

  1. Round 1 – Applicants will submit their online applications through The Challenge website. The application calls for inclusion of various information regarding an Applicant’s business plan. Submissions may include any or all of the following: PDF, Word Doc, Photos, Pitch Deck or a YouTube link to a video for the business. Loudoun County Department of Economic Development (DED) staff screen applications for eligibility and then forward the completed applications to the EDA.
    1. The completed applications received between May 3, 2021 and May 17, 2021 will be reviewed by Loudoun Economic Development staff.
    2. Staff will individually score the applications.
  2. Round 2 – Qualified Applicants will submit a video pitch between two and five minutes in length. Submissions may include any or all of the following: MP4, FLV, MOV, YouTube link or Vimeo link to a video.
    1. EDA members will individually score the applications.
    2. The top 12 Applicants will be announced as finalists.
  3. Round 3 – EDA members will meet between June 11, 2021 to June 23, 2021 and review the top 12 Applicants. Once Finalists are chosen, those businesses will be eligible to receive an additional People’s Choice Awards that will be determined by a vote provided on the digital and social media channels of the Department of Economic Development. The top 12 Applicants may be invited to present their Innovation Challenge application to the EDA for final selection of the grant winners.


  1. Up to four (4) separate businesses, products, and/or ideas will be selected as Runner Ups and will receive $25,000 each in grant money.
  2. One (1) business, product. or idea will be selected as Runner Up; People’s Choice Award and receive $10,000 in grant money.
  3. One (1) winner will be selected to receive the First Place Award and $40,000 in grant money.

Terms & Conditions

  1. Entry into The Challenge constitutes unconditional agreement to and acceptance of the Terms and Conditions. The Applicant is responsible for ensuring his or her familiarity with the Terms and Conditions.
  2. The materials submitted via The Challenge Application shall be the original work of the Applicant. By submitting an application, the Applicant certifies that it is not under any agreement or restriction that prohibits or restricts its ability to disclose or submit the materials included in the application or otherwise to participate in The Challenge.
  3. Applicants acknowledge and agree that the following materials submitted by Applicants will be used in the promotion of The Challenge and will be displayed on public webpage(s) showcasing The Innovation Challenge and the Applicants:
    • Names (Account Creator, team members) and Company name
    • Location of business or primary residence (city, county, state)
    • Industry represented by your business
    • Length of time your business has been in operation
    • Company Description Abstract (only)
    • Pictures submitted with the application
    • Video submitted with the application
    • Content posted on social media profiles listed in application
  4. In consideration of the time, expertise and other resources provided by the EDA, the Applicant, to the full extent permit by law, by submitting an application voluntarily releases the EDA and the County of Loudoun from any and all claims, actions, damages, costs or liabilities of any kind relating to or arising out of Applicant’s application for and/or participation in The Innovation Challenge. Prior to receiving any grant money, all winners must agree, in writing, to release the EDA and the County of Loudoun, from any and all liability, loss or damages arising from or in connection with the awarding, advertising, receipt, and/or use or misuse of grant or participation in any Innovation Challenge-related activities.

To apply, please visit