WILMINGTON, Del. – Applications for Delaware’s third annual Startup302 funding competition are being accepted through February 24 from technology-enabled startups with at least one founding team member from an underrepresented group. Prizes include more than $215,000 in cash grants along with mentoring and networking connections such as introductions to potential investors.
Startups must be tech-enabled with at least one founder from an underrepresented group: women; people of color, including African Americans, Latin Americans and Native Americans; and members of the LGBTQ+ community – all groups whose ventures are underinvested in relative to their demographic’s percentage of overall United States population. Because Startup302 seeks to foster diverse perspectives, promote inclusive and equitable consideration and attract diverse communities of founders to the region, startups don’t have to be Delaware-based to enter.
The competition will consist of three rounds: an application submission, an evaluation round and a final live pitch round that will take place in Wilmington, Delaware, on April 27. This year’s categories are Early Stage, Life Sciences, Clean Green and Blue, FinTech and Delaware Tech-Enabled. These categories reflect Delaware’s evolving innovation and industry landscape and include the agriculture, chemistry and advanced materials sectors as well as more broadly tech areas like artificial intelligence/machine learning, big data, software as a service and esports.
“Startup302 aims to strengthen Delaware’s innovation ecosystem by improving access to funding and mentorship for underrepresented entrepreneurs,” said Noah Olson, Delaware Prosperity Partnership director of Innovation. “These founders, while ‘underrepresented’ statistically, are poised to be another generation of business leaders, both in Delaware and beyond. It’s an honor to play a small role in supporting their growth along the way.”
Startup302 is coordinated by DPP and partners from key innovation-supporting organizations. Steering committee members include representatives from First Founders, the Delaware Sustainable Chemistry Alliance, the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, True Access Capital, The Innovation Space, the Small Business Development Center and StartOut.
There is no cost to enter, thanks to Startup302’s sponsors, which include DPP, the Delaware Division of Small Business, Discover Bank, UD Horn Entrepreneurship, Delaware State University, DuPont, Highmark Delaware, FMC Corp., JP Morgan Chase & Co., M&T Bank, The Innovation Space, the Delaware Bioscience Association and Delmarva Power.
Delaware Prosperity Partnership (choosedelaware.com) leads Delaware’s economic development efforts to attract, grow and retain businesses; to build a stronger entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem; and to support employers in place marketing Delaware to potential employees, highlighting Delaware as a great place to work, live and play through LiveLoveDelaware.com. In partnership with economic development partners throughout the state, the DPP team works with site selectors, executives and developers focused on where to locate or grow a business and helps with reviewing potential sites, cost-of-living analyses and funding opportunities, including available tax credits and incentives. DPP advances a culture of innovation in Delaware, working with innovators and startups to spotlight and celebrate successes and connect them with the resources they need to succeed. DPP and its partnerships throughout Delaware support and advance the missions of companies of all sizes and sectors.