NC IDEA’s evaluation process is rigorous and competitive; and companies must meet the following criteria in order to be considered for a seed grant:


For the term of a grant, companies must retain the majority of corporate operations and staff in the state of North Carolina.


We provide grants to innovative companies with proprietary intellectual property or other means of sustained competitive advantage that are solving large problems.

Companies with high capital requirements and a long runway to commercialization, such as pharmaceutical companies, are less likely to be considered. Other companies that are considered out of scope and not eligible for our grant funding include consulting practices or agencies; local, service-oriented small businesses (i.e. restaurants, retail stores); and not-for-profits. 

Stage of Development

The optimal stage of a company is between proof of concept and first institutional funding. Ideally, the company has some external validation of efficacy or utility for its intended product/service. We avoid funding “science projects” that have not yet demonstrated a clear path to commercialization.



Competitive applicants have at least one or more fully committed team member.  Experience working in or on a previous startup, as well as domain expertise, is favorable as well – but not required.

Market Opportunity

We prefer companies addressing large, rapidly growing market opportunities, with a unique value proposition and a scalable business model. 


Prior and Future Investment

Our funding is intended to help early stage companies accomplish specific milestones that demonstrate to investors and other funding sources that the company has high potential. Therefore, companies that have received greater than $250,000 in investment at the time of applying, particularly from sophisticated angels or institutional investors, are less likely to be considered.

We do however, consider founder and “friends and family” funding differently, and such funding will not negatively impact consideration. 


Grant Program

Have questions about our Seed Grant program or your grant application?

  • Visit our FAQ page
  • Email grants@ncidea.org

Working on your Fall 2016 Seed Grant application?

A member of our team will be available on the following dates and times to answer your questions about the application. To schedule an appointment in-person or over the phone, please contact grants@ncidea.org.

  • Thursday, 9/15 from 4pm - 6pm
  • Friday, 9/16 from 9am - 11am
  • Thursday, 9/22 from 4pm - 6pm
  • Friday, 9/23 from 9am - 11am

© 2016 NC IDEA