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 County Economic Development Authority, in partnership with Loudoun Economic Development, has announced the opening of the 2021 Loudoun Innovation Challenge, the second-annual competition for entrepreneurs seeking to take their business to the next level.
The 2021 Loudoun Innovation Challenge has ended. Sign up to receive emails about future opportunities or view our small business resources.
Scroll down or click one of the sections below to learn more about this year’s competition:
Loudoun EDA has dedicated $150,000 in funding this year, dividing it among six total grants:
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.
Commercial Ventures include services, products, or businesses that take a unique approach to solving an opportunity in the market while driving substantial market impact.
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.
Smart County Focus
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.
People’s Choice Award
Winner selected from the finalists. Anyone can vote, even people who cannot attend the competition in person. (This is when having friends on social media can pay off. Start promoting day one, and you could win the People’s Choice Award.)
An applicant must demonstrate:
- 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, for example, highlighting increased contributions to the business tax base, jobs at or above the targeted medium income level, and other economic benefits;
- The potential to scale the proposed product or service offering to realize ongoing and growing benefits to Loudoun County;
- How its product or service meets the category it is applying for, based on the definitions provided above;
- Any additional value to Loudoun.
- No purchase is necessary to enter or win.
- 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.
- 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.
- All businesses entered into The Challenge must be for-profit. Non-profit businesses are not eligible.
- 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.
- 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.
May 3 at 12 p.m. (noon): Applications open for the first round of the Innovation Challenge. Applicants are required to provide information about their product, service or idea; identify the focus area they are applying for; and submit a 2-5 page business plan.
May 17 at 12 p.m. (noon): Application deadline for the first round of the Innovation Challenge.
June 2: Qualified applicants will be notified and invited to submit a video pitch up to five minutes long.
June 9: Deadline for submitting video pitches.
June 28: Press release will announce the 12 finalists for the Innovation Challenge and open the voting for the People’s Choice Award. Finalists will prepare for a live presentation.
July 7: Deadline for finalists to provide high-resolution image/vector graphics of their company logo and an image that capture their team. A quote and/or video testimonial from the perspective as if you were selected as the winner must also be submitted.
July 22: Live two-hour event with Economic Development Authority members and the 12 finalists. Each finalist will be given 10 minutes for presentation and Q&A. This will be a public meeting of the EDA. Voting for the People’s Choice Award closes at 11:59 p.m.
Week of July 26: Video press conference will be held to publicly announce the winners.
August 2-6: Acceptance agreements are confirmed and grants awarded. If a winner is currently located outside of Loudoun County, the grant funds will be disbursed only after the business provides a signed lease agreement for physical office space in Loudoun.