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Press Release

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $35 Million to Fuel High-Growth Entrepreneurship Across America

Economic Development Administration’s Build to Scale Program Supports Efforts of 52 Organizations in 36 States

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross today announced that 52 organizations — including nonprofits, institutions of higher education, and entrepreneurship-focused organizations — from 36 states will receive grants totaling $35 million to support entrepreneurship, acceleration of company growth, and increased access to risk capital across regional economies.

The grants are made annually under the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Build to Scale (B2S) program (formally known as the Regional Innovation Strategies program).

The 2020 awardees will leverage an additional $44 million in matching funds from a variety of private and public sector sources.

“The Trump Administration is proud to support the 52 Build to Scale grant recipients and their tremendous work in the innovation and entrepreneurship space,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “These standout projects will now have the resources to expand their success and build on the advanced environment the Trump Administration is creating for American businesses.”

“Grantees were selected from a competitive pool of more than 600 applications and represent exemplary innovation and entrepreneurship from rural and urban areas across America,” said Dana Gartzke, Performing the Delegated Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “In addition, projects in federally-designated Opportunity Zones will bring new capital and opportunity to communities that traditionally have been ignored.”

Grantee highlights include Delaware Innovation Space’s addition of the Hard Science Startup Accelerator program, which will provide mentoring, coaching, and training across the full spectrum of the hard science start-up lifecycle; Opportunity Alabama’s bolstering of its Building Alabama’s Localvesting Ecosystem (BuildAL) Initiative in Opportunity Zones; Advance Casper’s plan to catalyze deployment of three tiers of early-stage capital in Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs) in the Casper Metro region and throughout Wyoming; and Cleveland Water Alliance’s focus on growing the region’s water economy by providing innovators the ability to conceive of, test, scale up, and demonstrate innovative water technology directly with customers.

This year's Build to Scale awards will build on regional economies through scalable startups via three competitions: the Venture Challenge, the Capital Challenge, and the new Industry Challenge. The Industry Challenge is in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, which is providing $2 million, and seeks to support entrepreneurship and accelerate company growing within the Blue Economy.

2020 Venture Challenge Grant Recipients

2020 Capital Challenge Grant Recipients

2020 Industry Challenge Grant Recipients

EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) administers the Build to Scale program, which is authorized under Section 27 of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Act.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

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