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Grants and In-Kind Support to North Carolina Early-Stage Companies to Promote Business Development



GrantWatch ID#

Funding Source
Array ( )

Geographic Focus
USA: North Carolina

Important Dates
Conference Date: 01/25/24
Deadline: 02/26/24 5:00 PM EST Save

Grant Description
Grants of $50,000 and in-kind support to North Carolina early-stage companies for business development assistance. Funding is intended to help entrepreneurs promote their startups, gain customers, and attract future investment. In addition to grant funds, the program supports businesses through mentorship, networking, and programming. The grant will enable companies to scale to the point that they can raise institutional investment, win grants, or increase revenue to ensure continued growth and sustainability.

In addition to funding, grant recipients also receive support from NC IDEA through mentorship, introductions, and programming, including:

  • Opportunities to participate in monthly seminars and workshops on topics such as marketing, sales and meeting with fellow founders
  • Access to NC IDEA staff to get feedback on pitches, funding opportunities, market pivots, and other topics facing your startup
  • Introductions to potential partners, mentors, advisors, funders, and customers.


Additional Eligibility Criteria
Companies must meet the following criteria to be considered for an NC IDEA SEED grant.

Geography: NC IDEA SEED grants are specifically targeted at companies headquartered in and that conduct a majority of corporate operations in the State of North Carolina. All publicly facing materials, including website, social media, and other marketing materials and channels should identify the business as a North Carolina company. Selected companies must agree to maintain the majority of corporate operations in the State of North Carolina for at least the 12-month period following completion of the grant.

Industry and Company Type: NC IDEA SEED grants are awarded to innovative companies with proprietary intellectual property or other means of sustained competitive advantage that are solving large problems.

Market Opportunity: NC IDEA SEED grants are awarded to companies addressing large, rapidly growing market opportunities, with a unique value proposition, and on a path to becoming a multi-million dollar company, have 50+ employees, or be investable in 3-5 years.

Stage of Development: Companies have demonstrated proof of concept (existence of a problem, market readiness, and an MVP) and are prepared to leverage a $50K grant to scale the business.

Team: Competitive applicants must have at least one full-time founder living in NC. It is preferred that all founders live in NC. NC IDEA defines a full-time founder as one who works 40+ hours a week on their startup and does not spend more than 15 hours a week, either 1) working at another company; 2) working at a different startup run by the founder(s); or 3) on school-related activities (including class time and homework).

Revenue: Companies that have revenue in the last 12 months of more than $250K are less likely to be considered.

Prior Investment: NC IDEA's funding is intended to help early-stage companies accomplish specific milestones that demonstrate to investors and other funding sources that the company has high growth potential. Therefore, companies that have received greater than $250K in equity investment or over $1M in non-dilutive grant funding at the time of applying are less likely to be considered. NC IDEA does, however, consider founder and “friends and family” funding differently, and such funding will not negatively impact consideration.

Companies do not have to be incorporated to apply for a MICRO or SEED grant. However, if a company is awarded a MICRO or SEED grant, the company must be incorporated before receiving any grant funds. An LLC is considered incorporated.

Companies with high capital requirements and a long runway to commercialization, such as pharmaceutical companies, are not eligible. Other companies that are considered out of scope and not eligible for grant funding include event venue and management companies; traditional staffing agencies; consulting practices or agencies; training companies; TV/film production companies; distributors; franchises; resellers; local, service-oriented small businesses (i.e. restaurants, retail stores) and other “lifestyle” companies; and not-for-profits.

Also excluded are businesses that are illegal in NC, even if legal in other states or countries.

Pre-Application Information
- January 29, 2024 – Grant Application Opens
- March 22 – NC IDEA SEED Semi-Finalists Selected and Notified
- April 1 – NC IDEA SEED Semi-Finalist Application Deadline
- April 26 – NC IDEA SEED Finalists Selected and Notified
- May 2-6 – NC IDEA SEED Finalist Pitch Scrub Sessions
- May 10 – NC IDEA SEED Finalist Pitches
- May 15 – NC IDEA SEED Grant Recipients Selected and Notified

NC IDEA solicits SEED grant applications twice per year, usually in mid-February and mid-August. NC IDEA typically receives 130-180 applications each grant cycle. From each applicant pool, approximately 24 companies are selected to progress to the semi-finalist phase. Semi-finalists are given 10 days to complete an updated application allowing them to elaborate on information provided in their original grant application and incorporate feedback from the reviewers. Each semi-finalist also schedules a 15-minute phone interview with NC IDEA.

Approximately 10-12 semi-finalists progress to the finalist phase to present in person to a group of 35-40 reviewers. Each company gives a 10-minute in-person pitch followed by 15 minutes of Q&A. Ultimately, 5-7 companies are selected and awarded an NC IDEA SEED grant.


Watch the Fall 2023 webinar:

Watch the Spring 2024 Webinar:

Number of Grants

Estimated Size of Grant
NC IDEA SEED provides grants of $50,000.

Term of Contract
Grant funds are typically released over the span of 6-12 months in separate milestone-based tranches.

Contact Information
Apply Online (from January 29):

411 W. Chapel Hill Street, Suite C2
Durham, NC 27701

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