How can we harness the power of innovation to create jobs, grow our economy, and benefit our citizens? The City of Philadelphia wants to know, and we’re putting up the dollars to make it happen. What would you do with a grant to support and grow our city’s increasingly active startup and early-stage business culture? What are the gaps in the Philadelphia’s startup and early-stage marketplace and how can our dollars make the most impact?
The Startup PHL Call for Ideas is intended to support and grow the Philadelphia startup and entrepreneurial community. The Department of Commerce will fund up to a total of $500,000 for individuals, partnerships, non-profits and companies with smart ideas to grow the startup and early-stage business economy in Philadelphia. We will disburse funds in multiple rounds over the next few years and expect individual grant awards to average less than $25,000.
This is an open call for ideas – any creative, workable proposals will be considered. The City is ready to invest in ideas with promise, backed by individuals or organizations ready to see them through and we will be looking to make investments all across Philadelphia. Possible projects will support the startup business community and might include educational and business development programming, efforts to facilitate social events or virtual networking, marketing initiatives, write-down of costs for early-stage space, supportive services for early-stage businesses, or facilitate technology transfer.
The Startup PHL initiative seeks to cultivate local talent and bolster its emerging reputation as a dynamic, attractive city for entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors. The city aims to foster entrepreneurial growth because a flourishing culture of entrepreneurship has the potential to employ thousands of local residents, stimulate investment in local businesses and neighborhoods, and bolster the entire region’s economy.
With a dynamic tech community, strong educational and research institutions, nationally recognized incubators and business development programs Philadelphia is increasingly well-positioned as an entrepreneurial center.
Firms such as Bentley Systems, Fiberlink, SevOne, and Bulogics all announced the establishment of Philadelphia offices in order to access local talent. In September 2012, leading early-stage venture capital firm First Round Capital moved its headquarters to Philadelphia. The city also boasts hundreds of startups and increasing numbers of incubators, co-working spaces, tech-related meet-up groups, venture capital firms and angel investor groups.
Through its Startup PHL initiatives, the City of Philadelphia is committed to building on these successes and growing a reputation as an attractive place for business and investment. The City has instituted a number of reforms to lighten the tax burden on small businesses and attract investment firms to the city. As a sister initiative to this Call for Ideas, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) and First Round Capital have partnered to create the Startup PHL Seed Fund, a $6 million fund with the mission to increase the availability of early-stage capital in Philadelphia. With Philadelphia emerging as an ideal ‘startup city,’ it is the goal of this grant program and related Startup PHL initiatives to cultivate an environment where more local startups and early-stage businesses have even greater opportunities to succeed.
The City of Philadelphia acting through PIDC as its administrative agent will make a multi-year investment in Philadelphia’s startup and early-stage business community, totaling up to $500,000.
Key Program Notes and Requirements
- We will award 4-8 grants per round with individual grants to average less than $25,000, though larger grant requests will be considered.
- Grant-funded projects should take no more than 6-10 months to complete; all grant funds must be disbursed within a year of award.
- Grantees and activities must be located in the City of Philadelphia.
- Eligible Grantees include individuals, non-profit organizations, for-profit companies or partnerships.
- Grantees will submit progress reports on funded initiatives after awards are made and grant agreements are executed. Reports will include a description of an initiative’s implementation process, a description of the initiative’s impact after one year (evidenced through the regular tracking of performance metrics), and a plan for the initiative’s continuation after the grant period has ended.
A selection committee comprised of representatives from the City of Philadelphia, PIDC, and members of the entrepreneurial community (“Selection Committee”), will review all submissions. The Selection Committee may request supplemental information to clarify and further develop an idea. The committee may also, at its discretion, choose to interview applicants to discuss their submissions. All applicants will receive notification of whether or not they have been selected for an award.
Questions about this Call for Ideas may be sent through the Contact Us Form .
The City of Philadelphia and PIDC reserve the right, at any time and at their sole discretion, to modify and/or terminate this application. In the event of such modification or termination, the City of Philadelphia and PIDC will bear no liability or responsibility to any party.
Successful ideas will:
- Enhance collaboration between organizations that support entrepreneurs
- Foster networks and create space for entrepreneurs to develop businesses and connect with mentors, advisors, talent and capital
- Deepen integration between Philadelphia’s higher education institutions, students, and startup community
- Create an environment which attracts new entrepreneurs and encourages graduates from Philadelphia’s higher education institutions to remain in the city
- Lead to increased business and job creation in the city of Philadelphia
The Selection Committee will consider the following factors in determining Startup PHL grant proposal awards:
- Quality and feasibility of the proposal
- Innovation and creativity of the proposal
- Ability to execute the proposal quickly
- Qualifications and experience of the Applicant
- Sustainability of the initiative
- Ability of the initiative to attract matching funds
After the selection process has been completed, the City will notify Startup PHL grant awardees and PIDC will execute grant agreements as the City’s administrative agent.
Sign up for updates, or follow @startupphl on twitter for announcements of the next Call for Ideas.