Seed Accelerator Program

Program Goal:

The goal of the Seed Accelerator program is to encourage the formation of business accelerator programs and to incent high-growth startup companies in the state of Wisconsin.

This program primarily supports the following WEDC Strategic Pillar and Focus Area:

Business Development: Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Program Description:

The seed accelerator model for entrepreneurial development is designed to increase the outcomes for sustainability and growth of startup companies, typically in technology-based industries. In a seed accelerator, classes of entrepreneurial teams enroll in a defined program over a certain period of time (typically 3-6 months). Participants are provided with small amounts of financing, experienced hands- on mentorship, educational programming, visibility to investors and other resources, along with processes for market and customer validation, and for developing and testing the commercial viability of an idea.

The program provides an entity operating a local not-for-profit seed accelerator with grant funding used to support the participating companies. Operational expenses of the accelerator may also be eligible for grant funding.

Eligibility Requirements:

The Seed Accelerator Program is designed to primarily support companies in technology industry sectors including, but not limited to, advanced manufacturing, agriculture or food processing, information systems or software, medical devices, bioscience and renewable/green energy.

Entities eligible for Seed Accelerator funds may include communities, organizations or other entities that operate a not-for-profit seed accelerator program in Wisconsin.

Eligible applicants will provide information on program management, operating plans, entrepreneurship resources and use of funds. Applicants will identify matching funds on a minimum 1:1 basis of the amount of funding provided by WEDC. Matching funds may be in-kind or cash, and may be dedicated to operating expenses.

Use of Funds:
Seed Accelerator recipients are required to provide grants, loans, royalty-based investments and/or equity investments to companies participating in the accelerator program. WEDC must approve the type of funding being provided to participating companies. Loan repayments and/or investment returns to the recipient may only be used to support program operations or to provide capital to companies participating in a current or future cohort of the accelerator.

Incentives and Available Funding (FY17): $1,000,000

Factors determining the level of grant funding for company capital:

  • The number of companies per class
  • The length of the seed accelerator program for each class
  • Other factors may include but are not limited to industry sector and local economic considerations.

Recipients may be eligible to receive funding for operational expenses directly related to the administration of the accelerator.

Activities and Expected Outcomes:

Award six organizations to support 30 startups and early-stage companies in creating 45 new jobs. Recipients will maintain an average co-investment ratio of 1:1.

Performance Reporting:

Recipients will be required to periodically submit a performance report documenting job creation, job retention and number of organizations assisted, as well as any other contract deliverable.

WEDC may impose additional reporting requirements to evaluate project performance and to ensure compliance with contract deliverables.

Application and Awards Process:

Applicants for Seed Accelerator Program funding are required to provide to WEDC, in writing, information on the applicant organization, accelerator program management and operations, and the process for accepting companies into the program.

Applicants must provide information to the satisfaction of E&I staff before being approved for Seed Accelerator Program funds. The application will be assigned to an underwriter and go through the award review process.