CTNext Launches Entrepreneur Innovation Awards

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Business competition awards up to $10,000 to startups for growth-related activities.

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“We created CTNEXT to invest in our entrepreneurs and innovative startups because we know doing so will attract new business and private investment for the state, lead to the development of cutting-edge products and ideas, and create good paying jobs..."

CTNext, Connecticut’s innovation ecosystem managed by Connecticut Innovations, today announced the launch of the Entrepreneur Innovation Awards (EIA), a competitive pitch process that provides awards up to $10,000 to entrepreneurs in Connecticut for growth-related activities.

Created in the 2011 Jobs Bill as an initiative of Governor Dannel P. Malloy and private-sector leaders, CTNext is a statewide network of entrepreneurs, mentors, service providers and others involved in helping Connecticut’s most promising startups succeed and grow.

To be eligible for the EIA, formerly known as the Voucher Program, startups must be Connecticut-based, registered as CTNext members, and looking to conduct growth-related activities to help advance their business. Project examples include but are not limited to: prototyping, performance testing, compliance testing, IP assessment, product or service development, market research, licensing, and more. A full list of the criteria can be found on the application page.

“We created CTNEXT to invest in our entrepreneurs and innovative startups because we know doing so will attract new business and private investment for the state, lead to the development of cutting-edge products and ideas, and create good paying jobs with good benefits for our residents,” said Governor Malloy. “The Entrepreneur Innovation Awards will allow this community to research, modify, or finalize their work and propel these businesses to the next level.”

To apply, candidates can visit http://www.ctnext.com/eia and fill out a short application for EIA, which will be evaluated by an internal committee at Connecticut Innovations. There is a rolling deadline for applications and pitch events will occur monthly at locations throughout Connecticut.

Finalists will be selected and asked to perform a five-minute pitch in front of a panel of expert judges. The judges will consist of company CEOs, mentors, investment professionals and other distinguished members of the entrepreneurial community.

“This is a continued effort to help businesses grow when they are at a pivotal point in the process of scaling their business,” said Claire Leonardi, CEO of Connecticut Innovations. “This grant award program can allow a business to make necessary modifications to a product, help to garner a better understanding of their customer or secure the proper licensing or patents to protect their business ideas.”

The first pitch event will be held on Thursday, Feb. 27, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Bijou Theater (275 Fairfield Ave.) in Bridgeport, Conn. The event is open to the public and guests should register at http://www.iplanevents.com/eia1.

“This money can go a long way for entrepreneurs that are interested in executing an activity that will help grow their business,” said Mary Anne Rooke, executive in residence at CTNext. “In addition to the funding, businesses also have the opportunity to improve their business or investor pitch by tapping into the expertise of mentors, executives in residence and growth advisors in the ecosystem.”

About Connecticut Innovations Inc.
Connecticut Innovations (CI) is the leading source of financing and ongoing support for Connecticut's innovative, growing companies. To maximize the growth potential of each business, CI tailors its solutions and often combines its funds with resources from other financial leaders to provide venture capital and strategic support for early-stage technology companies; flexible loans for established companies with new innovations; grants that support innovation and collaboration; and connections to its well-established network of partners and professionals. Through all these initiatives, CI has helped bring $4 billion in financing to Connecticut companies. The state’s most active early-stage investor, CI has created more than 26,000 jobs. For more information on CI, please visit http://www.ctinnovations.com.

About CTNext:
CTNext is Connecticut’s innovation ecosystem supporting the success of companies and entrepreneurs by providing guidance, resources, and networks to accelerate their growth. The statewide network connects promising companies to mentors, collaborative work spaces, universities, vendors and suppliers, and other like-minded entrepreneurs to help facilitate the growth and scalability of their business. CTNext is staffed with engaging advisors, mentors and entrepreneurs that have demonstrated past success with the development, launch and growth of a business. The network offers seminars, training and other events that help to foster innovation and create jobs for people in Connecticut. CTNext was launched in 2012 and in its first year of operation, the network worked with more than 500 companies and advised more than 300 through its system of growth advisors. To learn more, please visit http://www.ctnext.com.

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