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Innovate ND Phases

Vouchers & Grants

Innovate ND awards dollars through a voucher and grant system. Vouchers are issued in Phase I & II and grants are issued in Phase III.  Vouchers can be used to create your business plan, prototype development, coaching and consulting and marketing assistance to help you prepare for your business launch.  Grants are used to execute your plan developed in the first two phases.  

In order to access the Innovate ND vouchers and grants, you must be working with a certified entrepreneurial center. Contact an entrepreneurial center for further information. 

Eligible Expenses

Vouchers and grants may be used to advance the business or business idea. For example, vouchers and grants may be used for marketing, legal advice, prototyping, coaching and consulting, technical training, coach on calls and financial services. Proper documentation must be provided such as invoices, receipts and/or hour logs.  All expenses must be approved by the entrepreneurial center beforehand.  Vouchers and grants cannot be used for wages/salaries and capital assets including but not limited to office furniture, office equipment, rent/lease, and inventory.

All funds are disbursed to the entrepreneurial centers and not directly to the participant. Participants must submit expenses to the entrepreneurial centers and after approval an invoice will be sent to the Department of Commerce for reimbursement.
Entrepreneurial Centers will be allowed to bill Innovate ND participants at a rate of $65/hour for technical assistance. Technical assistance includes coaching and consulting participants for services provided in house.

Vouchers are reimbursed as expenses come in.  Grants are awarded with half being paid at the time of approval and the remaining half awarded after the final report is submitted and approved.  

Phases

Innovate ND is introducing a new phase-based program designed to provide the right resources at the right time. The program now has three phases to grow with your business.  Below are the phases and what is expected for you to complete in each phase.  Keep in mind each phase has a maximum timeline but you are free to move as quickly through the program as you like.  

  • Phase-I Voucher provides up to $2,500 to advance your business or business idea for an entry fee of $250. (6 months to complete Phase-I)
    • Start a business plan (or equivalent).
    • Work with your entrepreneurial center to establish goals and a timeline for your business.
       
  • Phase-II Voucher, upon review, may provide up to $5,000 to advance your business or business idea for an entry fee of $500. (9 months to complete Phase-II)
    • Finalize your business plan (or equivalent).
    • Must be coachable and making forward progress on your business.
       
  • Phase-III Grant, upon review, may provide up to $16,500 to advance your business.  (12 months to complete Phase-III)
    • Complete Phase-III application.
    • Pitch your business in front of a review committee at your local entrepreneurial center.  This is a great way to build your network and get real time feedback. 
    • Must attend or plan to attend the Innovate ND boot camp series.
       
  • Phase-V - Graduation
    • Work with your entrepreneurial center to identify what the next steps are for your business.  
    • Pursue additional financing
      • Lenders, angel/venture financing, investors, etc.
         

Funding is limited and there is no guarantee your business or business idea will go through all phases. Funding is available on a first come, first serve basis.