North Carolina is home to a number of funding institutions supporting strategies necessary for economic growth. As a result of Golden LEAF’s strategic plan, one of the five strategic priorities is to have, and be recognized for, excellence in organizational collaboration, innovation, and impact. To help address this goal, a spotlight on North Carolina funders will be included in the Golden LEAF Newsletter at the beginning of each month as a resource for our readers.
The mission of the NC IDEA Foundation is to strengthen the economy of North Carolina through a strategic combination of grants and programs, deployed directly and through a network of partners, in furtherance of NC IDEA’s vision to help people achieve their entrepreneurial potential.
NC IDEA’s core values are as follows:
- Entrepreneurial: We foster innovation and challenge the status quo.
- Equitable: We prioritize diversity, inclusivity, and collaboration.
- Ambitious: We believe in taking risks and maintaining resilience in the face of adversity.
- Candid: We engage in communication that is respectful, transparent, and direct.
- Catalytic: We lead and inspire new thinking in economic development.
- Impactful: We measure success by the value we create for our constituents.
NC IDEA’s work focuses on the goal of expanding North Carolina’s economic development efforts via entrepreneurship, namely, empowering more people to pursue their entrepreneurial ambition to start and grow high potential companies, while realizing such actions’ economic benefits. NC IDEA’s activities reflect an investment in the potential to grow, from within the State, the companies that will create the jobs and wealth that strengthen the economy and build diverse communities.
Through their powerful combination of competitive grants and programs, and a network of strategic partners, NC IDEA helps entrepreneurs when and where they need it most. NC IDEA believes entrepreneurs transform communities and views their work as a catalyst for positive change.
NC IDEA serves all 100 of North Carolina’s counties.
Program: NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM
NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM provides grant funding to organizations that execute creative programs to support entrepreneurs. NC IDEA believes that our commitment to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic advancement in North Carolina is best achieved by working in partnership with others.
The NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM grant program is designed to: 1) Identify (and support) new partners doing inspired things to help entrepreneurs; 2) Provide a means for NC IDEA to foster relationships, dialog, and learning between ECOSYSTEM partners; 3) Better understand how we may (collectively) support more people in their ambition to start and grow companies that will strengthen the economy of North Carolina; and 4) Encourage more organizations and individuals to support and participate in efforts to make North Carolina the best state in the nation to start and grow great companies.
NC IDEA is currently seeking applications through September 30, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. for its Fall 2022 ECOSYSTEM Grant Cycle from organizations executing on innovative and transformational ideas that can strengthen North Carolina’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Our goal is to select and fund ten (10) proposals that strengthen the NC entrepreneurial ecosystem, with a specific focus on supporting “under-served” entrepreneurs in our state. NC IDEA defines under-served entrepreneurs as those that identify as female, entrepreneurs that identify as minority (or persons of color), and/or entrepreneurs that are located in counties designated as “Tier 1” or “Tier 2” by the N.C. Department of Commerce. Each grant will be for up to $100,000 in total, with all funding to be disbursed by June 2023 for efforts completed during the 2023 calendar year.
Program: NC IDEA ENGAGE
The NC IDEA ENGAGE helps entrepreneurship advocates offer programs, pilot new initiatives, and organize virtual and in-person events that bring people together to support entrepreneurial activity. Entrepreneurial ecosystems and economically strong and diverse communities go hand in hand.
Generally, funding will range between $1K – $5K, with select activities being invited to propose larger programs requiring greater resources. Qualifying requests need to be submitted no less than 60 days prior to the proposed activity.
Applications are reviewed on a regular basis by the NC IDEA staff. Applicants are expected to provide as much detailed budgetary information as possible in the application, as well as concrete milestones that will determine the success of the program/proposal. Proposals that align with NC IDEA’s mission to support diverse and inclusive entrepreneurship, specifically companies with ambitions to grow to more than 50 employees and millions of dollars of revenue, are more likely to be considered.
Program: NC IDEA MICRO
Through small, project-based grants, NC IDEA MICRO awards $10K in funding to young companies looking to validate and advance their idea. The NC IDEA MICRO evaluation process is rigorous and extremely competitive. Companies must meet certain eligibility criteria in order to be considered for an NC IDEA MICRO grant.
NC IDEA solicits MICRO grant applications twice per year, usually in mid-February and mid-August. The next application cycle will open in February 2023.
Program: NC IDEA SEED
NC IDEA SEED offers early stage companies the critical funding they need to scale faster. The $50K grants are awarded to innovative startups with a proven concept — even if they are not yet profitable. The funds, along with mentorship and guidance, push companies forward and reduce risk associated with growing startups.
The NC IDEA SEED evaluation process is rigorous and extremely competitive. Companies must meet certain eligibility criteria and make a strong case that $50K will have a strong impact in the life cycle of the company in order to be considered for an NC IDEA SEED grant.
NC IDEA solicits SEED grant applications twice per year, usually in mid-February and mid-August. The next application cycle will open in February 2023.
To learn more about NC IDEA and its programs, visit www.ncidea.org. Stay up to date on NC IDEA news and news regarding our grant recipients (companies and partners) throughout the state by subscribing to our newsletter. Visit our website at www.ncidea.org and sign up by submitting your email address in the “Stay in the know!” form.