BLUNT ROCHESTER, FITZPATRICK ANNOUNCE SOAR ACT
Today, Congresswoman Blunt Rochester (DE-AL) and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-8) announced the introduction of the Startup Opportunity Accelerator Act (SOAR), a bill that incentivizes investment in new and underserved areas by directing a portion of funds toward applicants that fill geographic gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
WILMINGTON, DE – Today, Congresswoman Blunt Rochester (DE-AL) and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-8) announced the introduction of the Startup Opportunity Accelerator Act (SOAR), a bill that incentivizes investment in new and underserved areas by directing a portion of funds toward applicants that fill geographic gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“Our economy is driven by the entrepreneurs and small businesses who are investing in innovation for the future,” Blunt Rochester said. “By investing in programs like SOAR, we can drive economic growth in underserved areas and further empower entrepreneurs, including women, minorities, veterans, and individuals with disabilities. I’m thrilled to be introducing this bill with Congressman Fitzpatrick and I’m hopeful that together, we can shepherd this bill to passage.”
“We know growth accelerators work at stimulating investment and job creation but too often those gains are concentrated and leave American workers and entrepreneurs in rural, suburban, and urban areas behind,” said Fitzpatrick. “Working with Congresswoman Blunt Rochester, we’ve come up with a measure to support growth in underserved communities – wherever they are – by empowering entrepreneurs with essential services like experienced leadership, office space, access to financing opportunities, and structured mentorship. Together we can plant the seeds of nationwide growth.”
“Innovation is the secret sauce that has fueled the American economy since our country’s inception,” Senator Booker, the Senate sponsor, said. “Unfortunately, capital and resources to support that innovation is increasingly only going to a small handful of cities. Our bill would help address this problem by identifying and cultivating startup entrepreneurs in underserved areas and providing them with the support and resources they need to grow and succeed.”
"NextFab enthusiastically supports the SOAR Act's efforts to support accelerator programs by and for every innovator and problem solver in our society. Passion and vision arise everywhere, but entrepreneurship is complex, stressful, and risky. Accelerator programs provide not only consulting, networking, space, and capital, but also the crucial moral support of fellow entrepreneurs and staff,” Dr. Evan Malone, President and Founder of NextFab, said. “At NextFab we are proud of the openness and diversity of our programs and of our community, while recognizing that some have had to brave chasms of culture, distance, and cost to reach us. The SOAR Act, together with concerted outreach efforts by existing accelerators like our own, will help ensure that all passionate visionaries have a chance to positively impact the world."
The SOAR Act builds on a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Growth Accelerator Fund competition, in which accelerators and other entrepreneurial ecosystems compete for funding to grow and expand their reach to engage more startups and new communities. The program has existed for three years at the SBA, offering prizes to accelerators across the country and in Puerto Rico. The SBA reported that the program in 2014 and 2015 funded 138 accelerators that supported 5,000 companies that raised approximately $1.5 billion and employ nearly 20,000 people. The 2017 version of SOAR would authorize $6 million in funding each year for 5 years.
Specifically, the SOAR Act funding would provide:
1) Oversight and transparency of the program
2) Funding offered through a competitive prize program for organizations supporting early-stage startups including new and existing accelerator programs, incubators, and universities
3) Targeted focus on encouraging growth accelerators that address key geographic and demographic gaps, including women, veterans, minority-entrepreneurs, individuals with disabilities, and rural communities
4) Increased funding which will allow the SBA to continue to expand the strength of growth accelerators across the country
Incubation and accelerator programs provide entrepreneurs with essential services and are critical to efforts to create an environment where startups can grow and thrive. Most of these programs offer services to entire cohorts of startups, thereby encouraging startup clusters that are more likely to attract venture and equity capital to the region.
While the number of accelerators has grown by more than ten times between 2008 and 2015—from 16 to 170, according to the Brookings Institution, the majority of growth has taken place in high-income, well-established regions. SOAR will help to address these demographic gaps by encouraging growth with increased funding to accelerators across the country, not just in specific geographic areas.