The First Flight Venture Center (FFVC) received a check for $50,000 today from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The check was be presented to Andy Schwab, president of First Flight Venture Center, by Lynn L. Douthett, the NC district director for the Small Business Administration (SBA). The $50,000 award is the prize money for winning the SBA Accelerator Fund Competition in August 2015.

First Flight Venture Center plans to use the investment to initiate and launch LiftOff, a program designed to help North Carolina’s scientific entrepreneurs get early funding for their startups.

“We are extremely excited about the SBA award for our LiftOff Program. We believe this unique program will enable our high science, high impact companies to better achieve major milestones necessary to advance their commercialization efforts forward so that they are more attractive to traditional venture financing in the future. This award enables us to kickoff the program this month with four great companies at FFVC and continue our own fundraising effort to fully implement LiftOff for the next two years,” said Andy Schwab, President of First Flight Venture Center.

The program from the SBA awarded $50,000 investments to accelerators and other entrepreneurial ecosystem models in order to help fund their operating budgets and enhance their ability to effectively work toward their missions of driving innovation.

“We built LiftOff to give early-stage NC science companies professional guidance to increase their success rate at getting non-dilutive funding (non-dilutive means the founder/start-up doesn’t give stock for the funding, like they would with traditional venture funding, so they can control their company longer). LiftOff is designed to be a financial force multiplier bringing in more money and increasing fundability when our companies later seek angel or venture capital funds,” reads the organization’s website announcing the program.

The LiftOff program will focus on early non-dilutive funding, which First Flight Venture Center says will help inventors keep company control for a longer period of time. The program anticipates hiring grant experts to perform a three-step process with each company in the LiftOff program:

  • First, to design a unique strategy for each company based on the focus of their technology and business;
  • Second, to prepare an initial grant proposal driven by the unique strategy;
  • Finally, to achieve a force multiplier by using and re-deploying initial grant core material in new and additional grant proposals.

The companies participating in the program must commit to each step of the goal, says First Flight Venture Center.

As of October 23, 2015, First Flight Venture Center was seeking an additional $15,000 to launch this program.