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5 Places to Look For the Best Small Business Funding Contests

Small business grant contests are a great source of funding for small businesses. These contests give entrepreneurs an opportunity to pitch their business in hopes of being selected to win seed money. The challenge is where to find them, and locating the one that is most appropriate for your business.

5 places to look

Appropriate for the business means finding a funding contest that is in line with the nature of your business. For example, contests can be focused in areas such as technology, agriculture, energy conservation, or education. Choose one that represents your business sector. Remember, the judges will consist of experts from that industry.

With that said, here are 5 different areas to look for small business funding contests:

  1. Education/universities - more than 50 universities in the U.S. have business funding contests every year. Generally, the larger the university, the bigger the funding prize, so check out big schools such as Harvard, Stanford and MIT, along with local schools.
  2. Local competitions - look within your own community. Many small business contests are sponsored by neighborhood associations and other community groups.
  3. Corporations - also check the corporations in your own area, as well as contests sponsored by large corporations like Microsoft, GE, IBM and others. In addition to big cash grants, the larger corporations will most often also offer business coaching, mentorship and networking opportunities.
  4. Social entrepreneurship contests - look for organizations that focus on social good if you are an entrepreneur working on solving global problems such as hunger, poverty, and energy. The Hult Prize is the world’s largest student competition for social good. The Hult family donates $1 million in seed capital to help the winning team launch a social enterprise.
  5. Business incubators and business accelerators - provide advice, guidance and other forms of support for startup businesses. MassChallenge, for example, awards $1 million in cash and $10 million in in-kind prizes each year.

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