A women-focused accelerator at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign just landed a $50,000 award from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help strengthen resources and support for female-founded tech companies.
U of I’s EnterpriseWorks Incubator’s AWARE (accelerating women and underrepresented entrepreneurs) is one of 60 accelerators and incubators that were awarded the grant, which is part of a $3 million award given by the SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition. In total, STEM and entrepreneurship organizations across 39 states and territories were awarded funding to develop STEM-related innovations, company formations and education.
The award recipients are chosen by a panel of people with entrepreneurial, investment, startup, economic development and academic backgrounds from public and private sectors. The 39 recipients were chosen out of about 200 applicants.
U of I’s accelerator provides entrepreneurship training, counseling and networking resources to women-founded startups. The program provides a dedicated entrepreneur-in-residence that can help founders from underrepresented groups obtain small proof-of-concept grants, targeted mentorship, training and networking opportunities.
Since its founding, the incubator’s clients have received 424 SBA awards and have gone on to raised $1.1 billion in venture capital.
“SBA’s $50,000 award to supplement the AWARE program’s training budget is geared to provide focused assistance for specific entrepreneurial groups,” SBA Great Lakes Regional Administrator Rob Scott said in a statement. “In turn, we aim to increase the pipeline of future SBIR/STTR applications and STEM-related innovations that will continue to advance this country and revitalize communities.”