San Juan-based accelerator Parallel18 has been chosen among the 60 winners of U.S. Small Business Administration’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, to receive $50,000 each to support startups and entrepreneurs researching and developing STEM-related innovations.
The combined $3 million will support development focused on a broad set of industries and sectors, SBA Acting Administrator Chris Pilkerton said.
“Each $50,000 award will infuse a winning accelerator or incubator with additional operating capital to provide focused assistance to entrepreneurs,” said SBA Atlantic Regional Administrator Steve Bulger.
“This assistance includes support for company formation as well as awareness and education on the federal Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs,” he said.
“Receiving an award from the SBA Growth Accelerator Fund is very meaningful to parallel18 because it amplifies our capacity to achieve our mission for Puerto Rico,” said Lucas Arzola, director of operations of parallel18, a program of the Puerto Rico, Science, Technology and Research Trust.
“This funding enables local growing companies with a research and development component with much needed technical support to help them increase their chances of successfully securing SBIR/STTR funding,” he said.
“SBA will help parallel18 bridge the gap in capital that Puerto Rican entrepreneurs with groundbreaking technologies face to achieve commercialization,” Arzola said.
This year’s award recipients will focus at least 60 percent of their Competition-related work to entrepreneurs who represent one of the following groups: women; socially and economically disadvantaged individuals; entrepreneurs living in or whose businesses are located and operate in states with a lower number of SBIR/STTR awards, or in an Opportunity Zone.
By focusing the accelerators’ and incubators’ efforts on these entrepreneur groups, SBA aims to increase the pipeline of future SBIR/STTR applications and STEM-related innovations. Notably, the prizes are not for direct investing in the entrepreneurs’ small businesses.
“SBA continues to reiterate its support to distinctive organizations whose mission is to help start-ups grow and have a sustained impact in our economy,” said Yvette T. Collazo, district director of the SBA’s Puerto Rico and USVI region.
“We are more than pleased with having our very own parallel18 as one of the winners of SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition and look forward to the initiatives they will build as they foster entrepreneurship in Puerto Rico,” she said.
Applicants to the Competition submitted a brief presentation deck and an optional two-minute video outlining the organization’s overall approach, experience working with the targeted entrepreneur group, and key metrics that will be used to evaluate the success of the proposed plan.
Applications were judged by panels of experts with entrepreneurial, investment, startup, economic development, and academic backgrounds from both the public and private sector.