Southeastern Virginia business accelerator gets $500K grant
757 Accelerate, a regional business accelerator focused on supporting the growth of regional entrepreneurs in Southeastern Virginia, has received $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Commerce i6 Challenge grant program. The 757 Accelerate proposal was one of 27 successful applications chosen from a highly competitive field of more than 200, representing large, national nonprofit organizations, institutions of higher education, and entrepreneurship-focused organizations.
“Entrepreneurship is integral to building the new Virginia economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “I am pleased the U.S. Department of Commerce has recognized 757 Accelerate for their role in developing a world-class accelerator program and stimulating entrepreneurship in Southeastern Virginia. This grant highlights the significant impact public-private partnerships and regional collaboration can have on entrepreneurship in Virginia.”
“Incubators like 757 Accelerate are playing a central role in our ongoing efforts to make areas like Hampton Roads more economically independent and less reliant on federal and military activity,” added Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson. “This grant will help this great organization expand its impact in the region and hopefully bring more jobs and economic activity to Hampton Roads and our Commonwealth.”
Regional angel group 757 Angels and economic development organization Reinvent Hampton Roads spearheaded the grant effort in partnership with the National Institute of Aerospace. The 757 Accelerate submission was backed by an unprecedented coalition of regional partners. Financial support came from five cities: Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, and Portsmouth; four universities: Christopher Newport University, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk State University, and Old Dominion University; and one corporate sponsor, Towne Bank. In addition to these core partners, more than fifty other regional organizations wrote letters of support for the 757 Accelerate project.
“Today’s announcement highlights the importance of regional collaboration to spur economic development and growth in the new Virginia economy,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “Working with our public and private sector partners, it is vital to create programs that encourage entrepreneurship and innovation across the Commonwealth. I congratulate the 757 Accelerate project on this recognition and look forward to the success it brings emerging small businesses in Southeastern Virginia.”
“Reinvent Hampton Roads is proud to have sponsored this groundbreaking collaborative effort,” said Reinvent Hampton Roads President and CEO Jim Spore. “We believe a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem is capable of fostering the growth of emerging small businesses that is essential for the long term economic prosperity of our regional and state economy.”
The 757 Accelerate project is designed to implement a nationally-recognized, best-practices accelerator model. The project will consist of a three-month, intensive, mentor-driven, selective startup acceleration program focused on connecting promising startups with vetted mentors, investors, support services, and a lean startup education to become viable high growth businesses. The i6 Challenge grant performance period runs over three-years, which offers 757 Accelerate an opportunity to run three cohorts of companies through the accelerator before seeking renewed funding support
Entrepreneurs are also excited about access to new startup resources and a renewed focus on the innovation space.Hamilton Perkins, founder of regional startup Hamilton Perkins Collection stated, “the collaboration supporting this grant demonstrates how serious Hampton Roads is about supporting its entrepreneurs.”
“In addition to the extraordinary display of collaboration, the significance of this grant award is that it allows us to keenly focus our resources on the needs of our regional entrepreneurs, and build the networks of critical resources these companies need to thrive, instead of constantly concentrating on sustainability,” said John Paris, Chairman of 757 Angels.
To learn more about the Regional Innovation Strategies program and the awardee projects, visit https://www.eda.gov/oie/ris.