$150K ‘Shark Tank’ Pitch Competition Announced

The Loudoun Economic Development Authority and Department of Economic Development have opened the application period for the annual Loudoun Innovation Challenge business pitch competition, which will award a total of $150,000.

Applications will be accepted through July 28. 

“The EDA’s goal with the Loudoun Innovation Challenge is to promote entrepreneurship by investing a total of $150,000 into six trend-setting companies,” Economic Development Authority Chairman Bernard Mustafa stated. “Every successful business starts with a good idea and the funding to make it happen. Fresh ideas are always worthy of investment, and we’re excited to support the next generation of homegrown entrepreneurs.” 

This is the third year for the Challenge, funded through revenue generated from the authority’s tax-exempt bond financing, which supports commercial development in Loudoun.  

This year will follow a new format, with the 12 selected finalists making their presentations at a live, in-person pitch event on Sept. 24. The winners will be announced Segra Field during the Loudoun United FC vs. Detroit City matchup on Oct. 1.

Six winners will be selected.

Innovation Challenge Grand Prize Winner award of $40,000 will go to the business with the top overall scores, regardless of industry.

Winners in each of four categories will receive $25,000.

The Agri-Tech Innovation award will go to a business developing technology that improves yield, efficiency or profitability for agriculture, horticulture or aquaculture businesses and growers.

The Information and Communications Technology Innovation award will go to a business providing technology that allows people and organizations to better interact with the digital world. 

The Clean Energy Innovation award will go to a business developing renewable, less environmentally invasive forms of power, including solar, wind, water, geothermal, bioenergy, natural gas and nuclear. 

The Highly-Specialized Manufacturing Innovation award will go to a business improving quality control, shop floor management, inventory management and worker training processes and designs, which increase quality or productivity. 

And the $10,000 People’s Choice Award will go to the business that receives the most votes from attendees at the live pitch event. 

“We are expecting this year to be the largest and most competitive field of applicants for the Innovation Challenge,” Loudoun Economic Development Executive Director Buddy Rizer stated. “Over the past two years, this contest has introduced us to outstanding innovators in every industry and corner of the county, resulting in a plethora of #LoudounPossible success stories. We’re excited to meet this year’s applicants and see what the future holds for the entrepreneurs and innovators in our county.”

Businesses are not required to have a real estate presence in the county, but winners must prove their commercial investment in Loudoun before receiving funding. For more information and this year’s application, go to LoudounInnovationChallenge.com.

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