Companies applying for and receiving an NC IDEA grant, must adhere to the following eligibility criteria.

North Carolina Residency

  • Company must be headquarted in North Carolina or planning to relocate to North Carolina
  • CEO/management team must reside in North Carolina
  • Virtual companies with management teams in multiple locations including outside of NC will be considered on a case by case basis.


A company does not need to be incorporated when applying for an NC IDEA grant, but a company must become incorpated if awarded a grant. An LLC structure is considered incorporated.


Companies operating in the following fields are considered "in-scope" and are therefore eligible to participate in the NC IDEA grant program:

  • Software
  • Digital Media
  • Information Technology
  • Healthcare IT
  • Medical Devices and Diagnostics
  • Material Sciences
  • Green Technologies

Out of Scope **companies NOT eligible for the NC IDEA grant program

Companies operating mainly in the following fields are considered "out-of-scope" and are therefore NOT eligible to participate in the NC IDEA grant program:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Biotechnology

Also NOT eligible are companies that operate mainly under the following business models:

  • Consulting
  • Not-for-profit

Stage of Development

NC IDEA considers the optimal stage of development for applicants to be after "Proof of Concept" but before "First Institutional Funding".

Company must provide evidence that the idea or business model being proposed is feasible.

Receiving venture capital funding will not disqualify the company, however, preference will be given to companies without institutional investors.

Correct Uses of Funds

  • Funds must be for business related expenses only and not for research activities
  • Funds must not be intended for founder's salaries
  • Funds must help companies achieve their most significant goals
  • Examples of good uses of funds: Business planning, Market analysis, Beta prototype, Intellectual property protection

Grant Winner Requirements

  • Company incorporation is not required in order to apply, however, if a company does not already exist, a project manager must incorporate his/her business prior to the receipt of any award
  • Agree to maintain NC presence for up to 2 years or return award
  • Provide NC IDEA quarterly updates during 1 year grant period
  • Present final report to NC IDEA
  • Agree to provide company information to NC IDEA for at least a period of 5 years after the grant period. NC IDEA is interested in tracking the success of the program by collecting statistics such as:
    • # of employees
    • revenue
    • funding


Grant Program

LISTEN as NC IDEA officials and previous grant winners discuss how to apply for a grant


Proof of Concept

NC IDEA defines 'proof of concept' as a necessary step start-up companies take to demonstrate that their product is viable. 

Proof of concept involves research to prove that the core ideas are workable and feasible. Sometimes this requires making a minimalist prototype to show that the idea or device could be made to work.

If you have an idea and no research to back it up, you're not ready to apply.

Uses of Funds

Some of the types of items previously approved for use of NC IDEA grant dollars are:

  • Market research
  • Competitive analysis
  • Business Plan refinement
  • Business Development research
  • Supplies
  • Equipment
  • Prototype development
  • Legal fees for patent filings



© 2016 NC IDEA