NC IDEA Foundation is rebranding its Groundwork Labs accelerator program as NC IDEA Labs. It’s also expanding the program.

However, management isn’t changing.

John Austin, who helped create Groundwork, remains in charge. He is senior director at NC IDEA.

Groundwork launched in 2011 and shifted its emphasis to focusing more on mentoring and company development five years ago.

A “new format” will be offered this fall, and the number of companies accepted for the program will be doubled.

“Groundwork Labs has helped entrepreneurs successfully progress through the critical stages of growing strong companies, and now we want to build on that success to create greater economic impact for North Carolina; by doubling the number of companies that can participate,” said Thom Ruhe, CEO of NC IDEA, in announcing the name change.

“Of the nearly 150 companies that have participated in the program, 36 have raised more than $30 million, 17 have won an NC IDEA seed grant and seven have already achieved revenues in excess of $1 million,” Ruhe said. “The name change is simply intended to align the program more tightly with the foundation.”

NC IDEA offers a growing variety of programs to assist startups across North Carolina, including non-dilutive grants of up to $50,000.

Under the relaunched program, companies will be admitted as part of “cohorts” each month rather than twice annually.

The first stage will be a one-month program focusing on “customer discovery.”

A two-month program including “intensive mentoring and help” will be offered to what NC IDEA calls “promising companies.”

“This new format of monthly, rolling start dates allows us to have a program nearly year-round and enables us to more readily accommodate a company joining our program at the ideal time in its development,” Austin said in the announcement. “In addition, we can focus our energies on the companies that continue working with us beyond the first month of the program who can best be helped by our generous network of volunteer mentors.”

Applications will open Oct. 1 at the NC IDEA website.