Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom Receives $1.5M In Funding to Support Tech Entrepreneurs

The Northeastern Vermont Development Association, supporting Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom has been selected to receive $1.5 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Build to Scale Venture Challenge grant program to support local entrepreneurship and innovation.

The competitive Build to Scale program awarded 60 grants to applicants from 36 states. The grants represent a combined $53 million in federal investment. The Northeast Kingdom was one of just 10 rural applicants to receive an award this year. 

NVDA worked with Do North Coworking, an entity of Vermont State University, and the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI), a VTTA member, to apply for this grant as part of CORI’s 2023 Rural Innovation Initiative, a technical assistance program empowering rural communities to develop inclusive tech economies that support scalable entrepreneurship and tech job creation.

With the $1,501,427 million provided by the Venture Challenge Build grant and matching funds, NVDA and Do North Coworking plan to launch the InnovateNEK initiative.

According to the summary from the EDA, InnovateNEK will develop a tech ecosystem that:

  1. Improves awareness, access to, and engagement with the region’s tech startup ecosystem;
  2. Increases translation of emerging technology solutions into high-growth tech startups by increasing support for idea-stage tech entrepreneurs; and
  3. Accelerates and invests in the region’s most promising tech startups.

The Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA) will build on existing entrepreneur-focused programming to launch InnovateNEK with specialized staff, targeted outreach, and new tech-focused programming. NVDA will partner with Do North Coworking, higher education partners, and business development providers to launch InnovateNEK at Do North’s existing location in downtown Lyndon, at an innovation space in St. Johnsbury, and at satellite locations throughout the region.

InnovateNEK will engage 250-350 participants in events and activities supporting 45 tech entrepreneurs from ideation to launch and scale. Mentors and experienced tech entrepreneurs will work closely with startups throughout their journey, incubation and accelerator programming will provide the technical support they need, and a more robust investor network will yield investment of $3 million and 15 new revenue-generating tech companies.

“New collaborations through InnovateNEK will create opportunities for innovation in the region’s workforce, fundamentally changing how people view their abilities and work culture and creating economic growth that results in high-skill, high-paying jobs supported by private investment,” said Annie McLean, NVDA’s Community & Economic Development Coordinator.

“Securing Build to Scale funding is an immense accomplishment — a successful application is the product of significant time, skill, dedication, and belief,” said Matt Dunne, Founder and Executive Director of CORI. “This award is a testament to the effectiveness of public-private and bi-partisan partnerships and the incredible impact they can have for communities.”

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