Seed-stage North Carolina technology companies now have a new funding source.

Innovation Fund North Carolina, directed by Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, has opened the first cycle for its pre-seed funding awards totaling up to $250,000. IFNC will award $25,000 in grants and up to $100,000 in non-recourse loans to startup applicants in technology in agriculture, advanced manufacturing, health care and IT/communications. Each year there will be three application cycles and the new fund aims to award up to $1.2 million in its first year. Applications for the first round will be accepted starting Sept. 20.

The new fund is a demonstration project called Innovation Fund America, sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The project enables community colleges to provide earliest seed-stage capital to startups. Catawba Valley Community College was chosen as one of only three community colleges from around the country to participate in the project. IFNC is based on the the Lorain County Community College Foundation in northeast Ohio that started in 2007.

“This initiative gives North Carolina’s technology entrepreneurs access to pre-seed funding and other resources they need to be successful,” IFNC’s executive director Tony Mifsud said in a statement. “Innovation Fund North Carolina will increase the quality, volume, and competitive edge of startups for follow-on growth-stage investments throughout the state.”

Award recipients must agree to milestone driven plans and intensive mentoring programs. Awardees must have a business located in North Carolina and they must also maintain their business in the state for at least six years following receipt of the IFNC award. There are three information sessions scheduled to provide entrepreneurs more information about the initiative. Register for the sessions here. The sessions, all scheduled at 1 p.m., are as follows:

  • Monday, Sept. 16 at Catawba Valley Community College’s Corporate Development Center, Rooms 109A and B, 2664 U.S. 70, in Hickory
  • Tuesday, Sept. 17 at Packard Place, Suite 100 “The Garage,” 222 South Church St., in Charlotte at 1 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 19 at Fayetteville Technical Community College’s Tony Rand Student Center Multipurpose Room, 2201 Hull Road, in Fayetteville