Innovation Fund North Carolina, directed by Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, has opened the second 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 new round will be accepted beginning Jan. 1.

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.

To help prepare startups seeking funding, a series of informational meets are set for later this month:

  • Tuesday, Dec. 10 at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory at 10 a.m.;
  • Tuesday, Dec. 10 at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in Candler at 3 p.m.;
  • Wednesday, Dec. 11 at Packard Place in Charlotte at 10:30 a.m.;
  • Wednesday, Dec. 11 at UNC-Greensboro in Greensboro at 3 p.m.;
  • Thursday, Dec. 12 at Fayetteville Technical Community College in Fayetteville at 10 a.m.;
  • Thursday, Dec. 12 at UNC-Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill at 3 p.m.

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.  

“This initiative gives North Carolina’s technology entrepreneurs access to pre-seed funding and the other resources needed for success,” said Dr. Tony Mifsud, executive director of IFNC. “I encourage technology entrepreneurs to attend an information session to gain insight on the funding and application process.”

Registration information is available at the IFNC website.