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Build to Scale Program (B2S)


Additional Links

Notice of Funding Opportunity (


Application Deadline: Apr 29, 2021

Sponsoring Organization

Economic Development Administration (EDA)


Awards funding to increase job growth, economic opportunity, global competitiveness, and the development of future industry-leading companies through regional, technology-based economic initiatives. Supports organizations working to help companies by increasing access to investment capital, accelerating company growth, empowering entrepreneurs, and enabling technology commercialization. The program is comprised of two separate competitions: the Venture Challenge and the Capital Challenge.

Venture Challenge grants support entrepreneurship and company growth in communities, regions, or a combination of regions. Strengthens innovation systems and economic competitiveness by advancing new product innovation, new technology adoption, and the commercialization of research. Aims to leverage regional competitive strengths and build the overall innovation capacity of a region. The Venture Challenge competition has two funding levels, the Build level and the Scale level.

  • Venture Challenge Build projects:
    • Can pilot a solution to a demonstrated need
    • May implement a proven solution for a new region or community
    • Can demonstrate a commitment and ability to collect agreed upon impacts
  • Venture Challenge Scale projects:
    • May scale up an existing initiative that has established and achieved impacts
    • Must be carried out by an entity with a proven track record of successfully deploying programs
    • Can demonstrate a commitment and ability to collect agreed upon impacts

Capital Challenge grants increase access to capital by providing operational support for the formation, launch, or scale of investment funds. Funds should look to invest in scalable startups or organizations, such as angel networks or investor training programs, that help to deploy capital within a community, region, or regional industry.

  • Capital Challenge projects:
    • Must practice equity-based investing through tradition or hybrid models, or support an initiative whose participants practice equity-based investing
    • Should evaluate companies based on potential for high growth, which should serve as the central factor in their investment strategy
    • Must utilize grant funds to catalyze the deployment of capital within their region or related regions
    • Can demonstrate a commitment and ability to collect agreed upon impacts

Amount of Funding

Award ceiling:

  • Venture Challenge
    • Build competition: $750,000 per project period
    • Scale competition: $1,500,000 per project period
  • Capital Challenge: $400,000 per project period

Project period: Approximately 3 years
Estimated number of awards: 50
Estimated total program funding: $38,000,000

A dollar-for-dollar matching contribution is required for all B2S competitions. At the time of application, applicants are required to demonstrate a matching share of at least 50% of the total project costs.

B2S funds cannot be used to invest in startups or other companies.

Who Can Apply

Eligible applicants include:

  • States
  • Indian tribes
  • Cities or other political subdivisions of a state
  • An entity whose application is supported by a state or political subdivision of a state and that is:
    • A nonprofit organization
    • An institution of higher education
    • A public-private partnership
    • A science or research park
    • A federal laboratory
    • a venture development organization
    • An economic development organization or similar entity
  • A consortium of any of the immediately aforementioned entities

Organizations that are operating or plan to be operating within the period of performance of a previously-awarded Venture Challenge, Industry Challenge, or i6 Challenge grant, which is the predecessor of the Venture Challenge, are not eligible for a 2021 Venture Challenge grant. Similarly, organizations that are operating or plan to be operating within the period of performance of a previously-awarded Capital Challenge or Seed Fund Support grant, which is the predecessor of the Capital Challenge, are not eligible for a 2021 Capital Challenge grant.

Geographic Coverage


What This Program Funds

Capacity Building • Equipment • New Program • Operating Costs and Staffing • Starting a Business

Application Process

Application instructions, requirements, and other information about the concept proposal and the full application can be found in the funding announcement.

Applicants may apply to both B2S competitions but may only submit one application per competition.

Applicant webinar recording and slides
Applicant frequently asked questions
Application checklist


For programmatic questions or technical assistance:
Contact your State Economic Development Representative

Rural Awards

Past Venture Challenge and Capital Challenge awards communities have received are described on the program website.

Rural communities that have received funding include:

  • Central Maine Growth Council in Waterville, Maine used Venture Challenge funding to develop the Dirigo Labs initiative, a tech industry start-up accelerator, helping to build a sustainable tech and innovation hub in rural mid-Maine. The project will generate $15,000,000 in sales, raise $10,000,000 of investment capital and deal flow, fill 50 new tech jobs, and establish a network of 30 mentors leading over 400 mentoring sessions.
  • University of Wisconsin - Platteville received Venture Challenge funds for the Innovation Driving Entrepreneurship Accelerator (IDEA Hub) to enhance tech entrepreneurship in the rural region extending from Madison, Wisconsin to Dubuque, Iowa. The project will create 15 scalable technology businesses, serve 20 new entrepreneurs, and generate 55 new jobs.
  • Greater Colorado Venture Fund in Telluride, Colorado was awarded a Capital Challenge grant to establish an investment fund focused on providing seed stage capital investments to growth-oriented companies in rural areas of Colorado. The goal of the fund is to support rural entrepreneurship in order to create better paying, sustainable jobs that result in more equitable economic opportunities and outcomes.

Topics This Program Addresses

Community Planning and Coalition Building • Economic Development