EDA Build to Scale Program

Please see the full solicitation for complete information about the funding opportunity. Below is a summary assembled by the Research & Innovation Office (RIO). Note the cost-share requirements detailed in the award information section below.

Program Summary

EDA’s Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship is committed to furthering tech-based economic development initiatives that accelerate high quality job growth, create more economic opportunities, and support the future of the next generation of industry leading companies. Funding is available for organizations that aid companies in developing the next generation of technologies. Under the Build to Scale Program, EDA is soliciting applications for two separate competitions: 2021 Venture Challenge and 2021 Capital Challenge.

The Venture Challenge invites organizations to submit competitive proposals that seek to support entrepreneurship and accelerate company growth in their community, region, or combination of regions. Competitive proposals will outline how the project will strengthen economic competitiveness through new product innovation or new technology adoption, enhancing research commercialization processes and outcomes, remediating structural barriers that inhibit regional innovation capacity and resilience, and/or leveraging regional competitive strengths to stimulate innovation and job creation. Companies served by the applicant organization should be challenging the status quo of established markets, commercializing technologies, and furthering job creation within their businesses. Applicants should provide evidence that illustrates how funds leveraged through this competition will not only launch new programming and/or scale existing programming, but also generate sustainable added value for the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by augmenting existing regional assets for innovation and entrepreneurship. The Venture Challenge is a single competition but is comprised of two funding levels: Build and Scale (details in the award information section). 

Venture Challenge Build applicants:

  • May be piloting a solution to a demonstrated need
  • May be implementing a proven solution for a new region or community
  • Demonstrate a commitment and ability to collect agreed upon impacts

Venture Challenge Scale applicants:

  • May be scaling an existing initiative that has established and achieved impacts
  • Have a proven track record of successful deployment of programs
  • Demonstrate a commitment and ability to collect agreed upon impacts

The Capital Challenge provides operational support for the formation, launch, or scale of investment funds that seek to invest their capital in scalable startups (i.e., venture funds, seed funds, angel funds) or to organizations with a goal to expand capital deployment within a community, region, or regional industry (i.e., angel networks or investor training programs). Funding will primarily support operational and programmatic costs and may not be used as investment capital.

Capital Challenge applicants should:

  • Practice equity-based investing, whether through traditional or hybrid models, or be supporting an initiative whose participants practice equity-based investing (in contrast to debt-based investing, which is not supported under the Capital Challenge)
  • Evaluate companies for high-growth potential as a central factor of their investment strategy
  • Utilize grant funds to catalyze the deployment of capital within their region and/or related regions
  • Demonstrate a commitment and ability to collect agreed upon impacts


CU Internal Deadline: 11:59pm MST March 16, 2021

Sponsor Application Deadline: 9:59pm MST April 29, 2021

Internal Application Requirements (all in PDF format)

  • Application Type: Venture Challenge or Capital Challenge
  • Project Summary (3 pages maximum): Please include:1) your organization’s mission, the role/s you currently play in the innovation ecosystem, and how your organization is best positioned to support an innovation ecosystem; 2) a description of the project’s location and region, including its primary service area, a description of the communities or regions served (e.g., assets, financial and business resources, workforce, and infrastructure); 3) how the solution will capitalize on specific opportunities facing the community and/or tackle structural challenges (i.e. what is the problem you are trying to solve); 4) any former, current, or future partnerships/working relationships with public and/or private entities at the national, state, regional, and/or local level that will be working on this project; 5) evidence- and data-based anticipated goals, including outputs and outcomes using SMART framework; and 6) a sustainability plan, including anticipated challenges, potential barriers, a forecast of post- award period operations.
  • PI/Project Leader Curriculum Vitae/Resume
  • Cost-share or Matching Confirmation Letter: the letter must be from a dean, director or chair and detail the matching support and whether it is cash or in-kind.
  • Budget Overview (1 page maximum): A basic budget outlining project costs is sufficient; detailed OCG budgets are not required.

To access the online application, visit: https://cuboulderovcr.secure-platform.com/a/solicitations/6593/home


There are no special eligibility requirements.

Limited Submission Guidelines

Under the Build to Scale Program, EDA is soliciting applications for two separate competitions: (1) the Venture Challenge and (2) the Capital Challenge. Applicants may apply to both Challenges but may only submit one application per Challenge.

Award Information

Venture Challenge Build applicants may not request in excess of $750,000 over the 3-year period of performance. Venture Challenge Scale applicants must request more than $750,000 and may not request in excess of $1,500,000 over the 3-year period of performance.

Capital Challenge requests may not exceed $400,000 over a 3-year project period.

Applicants must provide matching share equal to at least 50 percent of the total project cost; i.e., applicants must match each dollar requested with at least one dollar of applicant match. See the solicitation for full details.