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        New Venture Accelerator awarded grant to accelerate economic development and job growth

        January 13, 2022 By Ward Swift

        All News


        Job GrowthU.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo recently announced that 50 organizations — including nonprofits, institutions of higher education, state government agencies, and other entrepreneurship-focused organizations — from 26 states will receive grants to support programs that will fuel innovation and economic development.

        Lou Bifano“Working together, the Harbert College of Business, the New Venture Accelerator, the Auburn Research & Technology Foundation, the City of Auburn, and others have created a vibrant, supportive entrepreneurial environment that is committed to advancing new and growing businesses”, said Lou Bifano, Director, New Venture Accelerator.  “Fully funded and supported by the Harbert College of Business, the New Venture Accelerator has a unique combination of resources to offer the local business community including education, skills development, mentoring, collaborative workspace, networking opportunities and consulting expertise.”

        The grant is part of the Build to Scale Program, which is administered annually by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). The program aims to accelerate entrepreneurship by increasing inclusive access to business support and startup capital.

        Cary Chandler“Auburn is one of America’s best places to live and to start a business”, said Cary Chandler, Senior Director, Auburn Research and Technology Foundation.  “Through its proven entrepreneurial and innovation educational programing and one-on-one business counseling, the New Venture Accelerator and its predecessors have successfully launched over 50 businesses from Auburn University’s student and faculty entrepreneurs.  These businesses have received over $32.5 million of venture investment and have created over 370 jobs.  This expertise and track record of success has us well-positioned to foster robust economic growth in the Auburn-Opelika area by utilizing the EDA grant to offer unique tools and programming to the greater community.”

        The current entrepreneurship ecosystem at Auburn University has allowed students and employees to engage in entrepreneurship education and programming through the New Venture Accelerator. This EDA grant provides opportunity to expand education and programming to include members of the local community. Auburn University and the City of Auburn encourage entrepreneurs to Start in Auburn.

        The amount awarded to Auburn University (Co-Principal Investigators Lou Bifano and Cary Chandler) under the Venture Challenge is a combined $657,622 federal share and a $657,622 local match. The Venture Challenge awards grants to intermediary organizations like accelerators, universities, community colleges, and nonprofits to support new business ventures that are scalable by nature, challenge the status quo of markets, commercialize technologies, and further job creation.

        Anyone interested in starting a new business in the Auburn-Opelika area or who may need help growing their business is encouraged to reach out to Lou Bifano (, Cary Chandler (, or Caitlin Myers ( to learn more about the full range of programs and business counseling services that are offered by the Harbert College of Business, the New Venture Accelerator, the Auburn Research Technology Foundation, and the City of Auburn.

        Meet the Grant Partners

        Harbert College of Business

        The Harbert College of Business at Auburn University is a nationally ranked hub of undergraduate, graduate, and continuing business education that is inspiring the next generation of business leaders. Our world-class faculty deliver unparalleled academic rigor in the classroom, while our research-driven scholarship advances thought leadership and best practice in emerging business disciplines. Our alumni, friends, and corporate partners actively support and engage our faculty and students to integrate business theory with practical experience and instill the level of professional proficiency and personal integrity demanded by employers around the globe.

        Visit Harbert College of Business website

        New Venture Accelerator

        The mission of the New Venture Accelerator is to be a full-service, mixed-use business accelerator assisting Auburn University student-entrepreneurs, faculty, and staff start-ups as well as early-stage commercial ventures. Its goal is to help launch, nurture, and accelerate the development of entrepreneurial companies and to bolster Auburn University and the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation’s innovation and entrepreneurship programs and initiatives by providing working space, programming, Auburn University intellectual property licensees, corporate partnerships as well as revenue generating commercial clients.

        Visit New Venture Accelerator website

        Auburn Research & Technology Foundation

        The aim of the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation (ARTF) is to support Auburn University and its Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development mission by growing the research enterprise through new contracts and partnerships, translating applied research into commercialized opportunities and new business ventures, and providing an entrepreneurial business environment for them to prosper.

        Visit Auburn Research & Technology Foundation website

        Start in Auburn

        Auburn University and the City of Auburn encourage entrepreneurs to start in Auburn, where there is a vibrant, supportive ecosystem committed to advancing new and growing businesses. Working together, the university and city provide a unique combination of resources which include expertise, workspace, and competition/networking opportunities.

        Visit Start in Auburn website

        U.S. Economic Development Administration

        The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

        Visit the U.S. Economic Development Administration website

        Harbert Inspiring Business