U.S. Department of Commerce Announces 50 Recipients of “Build to Scale” Program

DETROIT – Today, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo announced that 50 organizations — including nonprofits, institutions of higher education, state government agencies, and other entrepreneurship-focused organizations — from 26 states will receive grants totaling $36.5 million to support programs that fuel innovation and tech-based economic development.

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

“The ‘Build to Scale’ program strengthens entrepreneurial ecosystems across the country that are essential in the Biden Administration’s efforts to build back better,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “This work is critical in developing the innovation and entrepreneurship our country needs to build back better and increase American competitiveness on the global stage.”

Castillo announced the “Build to Scale” grantees at TechTown Detroit, an entrepreneurial incubator and accelerator in Detroit, Michigan, that is one of the 2021 recipients of the grants. Representatives from Automation Alley, an Industry 4.0 knowledge center in Troy, Michigan, that also received a 2021 grant, joined the event, along with local dignitaries.

“EDA is proud to support this year’s ‘Build to Scale’ grantees as they fuel regional innovation hubs throughout the country,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “Investing in scalable startups and creating access to capital will yield more economic opportunities and support the next generation of industry-leading companies. This is the type of vital work that President Biden’s build back better agenda promises to continue to support.”

The 2021 awardees will leverage an additional $40 million in matching funds from a variety of private and public sector sources. These EDA investments support aerospace, agtech, blue economy, bioscience, advanced manufacturing and health technology clusters in regions throughout the U.S. and will lead to stronger, more resilient economies across the country.

The FY21 Build to Scale program was comprised of two competitions––the Venture Challenge and the Capital Challenge.

  • The Venture Challenge seeks to leverage regional competitive strengths to accelerate innovation and job creation through high-growth technology entrepreneurship and fostering inclusive access to proven entrepreneurship support models. For example, grantee Automation Alley will use their grant to expand its Michigan Industry 4.0 (MI4.0) Accelerator, which provides resources to support startups developing Industry 4.0 technologies to digitize manufacturing and to support Michigan’s manufacturers in adopting these technologies.
  • The Capital Challenge increases access to capital in communities where risk capital is in short supply by providing operational support for early-stage investment funds, angel capital networks, or investor training programs that focus on both traditional and hybrid equity-based models. For example, TechTown Detroit will use its grant to recruit and train 200 angel investors to support the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem with the goal of supporting 50 projects, totaling $34.7 million in early-stage capital.


The original press release published 9/30/21 can be found here.


Bioscience & Technology Business Center (KU Innovation Park) was awarded $1.5 million in grant assistance as part of this announcement.

The Bioscience & Technology Business Center (BTBC) will strengthen and expand its economic development coalition model and enhance its mission through the creation of the KU Innovation Park, a university-affiliated research park on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence. To facilitate the rapid growth of the park and to support its mission, BTBC will formalize and expand its innovation, commercialization, and entrepreneurship support services under a new program: the Innovation-to-Industry Cluster Accelerator (i2i). Through i2i, the park will systematize and scale BTBC’s existing cluster-focused development strategy by creating hubs of research and commercialization resources around specific areas of technological innovation. Through these Innovation Hubs, university researchers, students, entrepreneurs, and public and private economic development resources will be tightly coordinated around the development of innovative technology solutions for specific market needs. Driving the development of these innovations will be Industry Clusters of related startups, established companies, and government agencies with shared interests in the technology solutions developed within the hubs. These entities will serve as market test beds, R&D partners, and sources of human and financial capital for the technology startups within the Hubs. By coordinating stakeholders from basic research stages through to market application, i2i will facilitate a more efficient and effective path to commercializing KU research and will foster the retention of KU graduates through the development of technology-driven industry clusters and their associated high-wage jobs, developed around the strengths of the university.

Details about the Park’s program plans originally published here.