Albemarle County and the City of Charlottesville, in partnership with the University of Virginia, announced the creation of a new accelerator for regional entrepreneurs. The Catalyst Accelerator Program, developed through a unique collaboration among the University of Virginia, Albemarle County, and the City of Charlottesville, will provide dedicated staff, workspace, advisors, programming, and $20,000 grants to support high-potential, scalable startups in the region. Applications will be accepted beginning August 1 for the inaugural cohort that will begin in Fall 2019. A second window for selection will open later in the fall.
Between the Fall of 2019 and the Spring of 2021, Catalyst will select and directly support 20 early-stage companies operating in the region, with a particular focus on teams developing scalable products or services with high-growth potential. Each team selected for the nine-month program will receive dedicated workspace in Charlottesville or Albemarle, experienced advisors, $20,000 in grants, and access to over $50,000 of in-kind resources. Teams need not be affiliated with the University of Virginia to participate.
Roger Johnson, Director of the Albemarle County Office of Economic Development, said, “Albemarle County is delighted to partner with UVA and Charlottesville in support of a program to help developing companies…whether they build a better paperclip or develop artificial intelligence…succeed by providing access to a place to work, mentors, investors and other subject matter experts.”
“Every community desires a full pipeline of growth-oriented enterprises, the Catalyst Accelerator Program is designed to help us get there,” commented Chris Engel, Director of the City of Charlottesville Office of Economic Development.
Catalyst is taking a more networked and open approach to the role that high growth accelerator programs can play in their communities. Rather than develop programming that is limited to selected teams, Catalyst will collaborate with local and regional organizations to offer a monthly portfolio of programming and networking events open to the broader community—creating connections that might not otherwise occur.
Organizations collaborating with Catalyst include: Charlottesville’s Business and Innovation Council (CBIC), Community Investment Collaborative (CIC), Small Business Development Center (SBDC), CvilleBioHub, UVA Licensing & Ventures Group, Charlottesville Angel Network, UVA LVG Seed Fund, and others.
The program will also provide unique internship and project-based learning opportunities for students—providing work experience with small, high-potential companies. Catalyst is collaborating with the University of Virginia’s Career Center, connecting startups in the accelerator with students developing in-demand skills, such as: data analytics, digital marketing, software development and design. For example, startups participating in a pilot of the program this past Spring were integrated into courses through which student teams researched and developed a long-term social media strategy for each company.
Catalyst was made possible by a two-year grant from the GO Virginia Region 9 Council, supported by the Central Virginia Partnership for Economic Development. Catalyst was made possible by a two-year grant from the GO Virginia Region 9 Council, supported by the Central Virginia Partnership for Economic Development. “The GO Virginia Region 9 Council is thrilled to advance this project as the best and right next step for growing a robust regional entrepreneurship ecosystem,” said Tom Click, Immediate Past Chair of the GO Virginia Region 9 Council and co-founder, President, CEO of Patriot Aluminum.
More information about the Catalyst accelerator, including the criteria for applying to the program, can be found at http://434.co