Enhancing the Tech Ecosystem with the Arlington Innovation Fund

Published on July 19, 2023

The Arlington County Board voted on July 18, 2023, to approve the framework for the Catalyst Grant Program of the newly created Arlington Innovation Fund (AIF). The $1 million AIF, part of the FY 2024 Adopted Budget, is designed to encourage the growth and success of technology startups by providing access to capital and to enhance the local tech ecosystem through the sponsorship of unique initiatives and programming.

The primary goal of the AIF is to help local entrepreneurs extend the life of early-stage capital, a crucial stage in their lifecycle, in turn helping to develop a homegrown pipeline of tech companies that will then create jobs, become office tenants and grow into thriving members of Arlington’s business community. Given the specific challenge in raising early-stage capital, AED has set a target to receive at least 50% of applications from founders within under-represented and underserved communities.

The Arlington Innovation Fund has two components: the Catalyst Grant Program and the Tech Ecosystem Support Fund.

The Catalyst Grant Program will award non-dilutive co-investment grants ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 to eligible Arlington-based startups. Qualifying companies should be early-stage ventures, and grant funds may be used to hire employees, conduct research and development, occupy commercial real estate and for other costs to help these smaller companies leap forward in their growth. Applications will be evaluated through a competitive process, and the program will be administered by Arlington Economic Development with 13 to 26 grants awarded from this initial funding.

The Tech Ecosystem Support Fund will support local and regional programming that focuses on the tech ecosystem in Arlington and Northern Virginia. This support may include sponsorships, partnerships, and other program activities.

"While Arlington and the National Capital region are home to a growing number of technology companies, our region’s lack of venture capital investment compared to national competitors has the potential to limit economic growth," said Arlington Economic Development Director Ryan Touhill. "The Arlington Innovation Fund will accelerate the growth of local startups at the time they need it most and in turn strengthen Arlington’s position as a leading hub for technology companies."

Funding for the Arlington Innovation Fund was initially approved by the Arlington County Board as part of the FY 2024 budget. The application process for the Catalyst Grant Program is anticipated to launch later this summer.

AIF applicants will be evaluated by an independent financial services consultant, with high-growth potential applicants referred for award consideration to Arlington Economic Development staff and the County’s Industrial Development Authority.

Details about the program will be shared on AED's website.

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