Paper Abstract

VENTURE WINSTON GRANTS

It’s time to define and build on Winston-Salem’s assets and leverage future-focused sectors and startups to accelerate our innovation economy.

The Winston Salem entrepreneurial ecosystem is relatively young and has made significant strides in the last several years with increasing numbers of scalable, tech-enabled startups and infrastructure to support them.

Despite achieving national recognition for our progress, Winston Salem’s ecosystem is shallow and wide—we need more startups, more infrastructure and more focus. It’s time to define and build on Winston-Salem’s assets and leverage future-focused sectors and startups to accelerate our innovation economy.

SOLUTION
After studying successful models in thriving ecosystems, we decided to import a grant competition model to Winston Salem, designed to recruit up to 20 startups a year for the next five years. Each winner will receive a $50k non-equity grant in exchange for moving the majority of their operations to Winston Salem for one year.

We identified five future-focused sectors—the future of aviation, health tech, augmented and virtual reality, cybersecurity and creative enterprise— and will actively recruit to create density in each of those areas.

We created a partnership with our local incubator to host the recruited startups, and with an economic development organization to retain them after the first year. Our role is to design, build and run the global startup competition.

Finally, we created a public-private partnership for funding, with city and county governments approving two years of operations, and raised private money to fund the first 16 grants.

RESULTS
Final terms for the release of the money from the City of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County governments are in progress, and our team is preparing for program launch.

BY THE NUMBERS

16

non-equity, $50K grants secured for first year of operation

5

future-focused sectors in Winston-Salem

20

startups projected to move to Winston-Salem each year, for the next 5 years

GALLERY

©2021 Agile City Winston-Salem

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