CIE Mentor Programs

Accelerator Fund

Thanks to the generous support of the NC IDEA Foundation, the CIE has funds available through 2021 to support startups in reaching key milestones. Entrepreneurs are welcome to apply for up to $5,000 in financial assistance from the CIE Accelerator Fund to achieve specific milestone goals. Preference is given to entrepreneurs with current or past CIE Mentor Teams or participation in the CIE Portfolio program. Accelerator Fund recipients must be CIE Members.

Getting Started

To start the process, entrepreneurs are asked to complete the application form to be reviewed by the CIE Accelerator Fund Committee.

Available Funds

Entrepreneurs may receive full or partial funding of requests. The funds are limited and the application process is competitive. The total maximum amount that may be awarded to a venture is $5,000. Entrepreneurs may make multiple requests for funding until $5,000 has been awarded.

Payment of Awarded Funding

Funding is direct-pay to vendors and service providers, or can be a pre-approval for reimbursement to the entrepreneur. This is not a grant that is paid directly to an entrepreneur in a lump sum in advance of the milestone activity. Direct pay means the CIE will pay approved fees or costs to the vendor or service provider.

For example, if the Accelerator Committee approves patent application work for up to $5,000, the CIE will pay the attorney’s invoice up to that amount when work is complete. If the invoiced amount for completed work is $4,000, that is the amount that will be paid. The additional $1,000 will not be paid, unless a new application is submitted and approved. Receipts, invoices, and other documentation is required. The application form provides additional instructions.

In general, all expenses must be approved for payment and/or reimbursement BEFORE the costs are incurred. This is forward-looking fund and does not pay or reimburse for past milestone achievements. There may be time-sensitive and immediate exceptions to this rule, but do not count on funds being available for expenses incurred prior to your application being submitted and approved.

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Eligible Venture Criteria

  • Early-stage technology or innovative U.S. ventures in good standing and based in North Carolina (may be incorporated in a different state)
  • Privately held, for profit, and defined as a small business by the SBA
  • Less than $250,000 in private sector investment and less than $100,000 in revenue in the last 12 months
  • Current CIE membership
  • Preference is given to requests from ventures working with a CIE Mentor Team and those that have participated in the CIE Portfolio Program

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Acceptable Requests

Accelerator Fund support is milestone focused – the funds provided will help your venture achieve important milestones such as completing customer discovery, securing new customers, ramping up sales, raising outside investment, securing an important strategic partner, etc. Some acceptable services include:

  • Marketing plans and strategies
  • Market research and surveys
  • Prototypes for beta testing/technology validation/product testing
  • Legal costs for strategic licensing agreements, key employee contracts, or equity agreements
  • Intellectual property protection (patent searches and patent applications, for example)
  • Engineering Services
  • Branding, website design, and marketing materials
  • Regulatory consulting
  • Coaching for investor presentations
  • Travel to industry and investor conferences for specific milestone-focused goals

**Funding requests for operating overhead, retiring debt, salaries, incorporation fees, accounting systems, and other routine business activities and expenses, will not be approved.

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Reporting Requirements

Ventures accepting CIE Accelerator Fund support must agree to complete semi-annual CIE economic impact and client satisfaction surveys for three years. Companies must also complete a final Use of Funds report and periodic Outcome forms.

Additional instructions and information are available on the Application Form.

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