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Innovate ND Program

If you're an entrepreneur in North Dakota, the Innovate North Dakota voucher and grant program is a great resource that can give your business the boost it needs. Learn more about this program below.

    • Grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem in North Dakota to enhance economic development and economic diversity in the state
    • Educate and assist participants on the business model canvas, value proposition, and customer identification
    • Assist participants to validate their metrics through investment, sales or customer interviews

    • Funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis
    • Entrance into the next phase is not guaranteed. The participant must demonstrate all requirements are met prior to acceptance into the next phase
    • The participant must meet the requirements in the specified timeframe for that phase. In the event a major life event occurs that prevents the participant from meeting the specified timeframe of the phase, rare exceptions will be made to place the participant on hold until the life event passes. Please note, this will be rare and at the discretion of the Center and Commerce.
    • Phases 1, 2 and 3 are voucher programs where the participant will be reimbursed for eligible expenses. Participant must complete and submit the Expense Form with accompanying invoices, receipts and supporting documentation to the Center monthly.
    • Phase 4 is a grant program. Participants must meet all requirements of N.D.C.C 54-60.1.
    • Participant agrees to provide the following to the Center:
      • Dollar value of sales
      • Dollar value of investment
      • Estimated out of state dollars invested in the business
      • Number of employees and the average compensation

    • The business is or will be registered in North Dakota
    • The idea or concept is innovative
      • A new business idea or concept
      • An existing business model with a new innovative approach
    • Must be a scalable business by bringing value back to North Dakota
    • Must serve a market outside its initial community and potential outside North Dakota
    • Must be accepted into Phase 1 on or after July 1, 2019

    • The entrepreneur will complete the webform at https://www.commerce.nd.gov/innovatend/ and select the Center of their choice.
    • The assigned coach at the Center will hold an enrollment interview with the entrepreneur
    • The Center and Commerce will determine if the entrepreneur is approved for Phase 1
    • Commerce will send an approval or denial email to the entrepreneur and copy the Center
    • If approved, the entrepreneur must mail a $250 entry fee to Commerce

    • Employee wages or compensation
    • Product inventory
    • Office rental or equipment
    • Meals
    • In-kind labor
    • Infrastructure costs
    • Operational costs

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  • Phase 1 - $2000

    Overview:

    A voucher reimbursement program where the participant is eligible for up to $2,000 in reimbursable expenses through the Entrepreneur Center. The participant must submit a $250 entry fee to Commerce. The participant has 3 months to complete all Phase 1 requirements.

    Steps to complete phase 1:

    • Complete a minimum of 20 customer interviews
    • Meet with the coach at their Center every other week
    • Recommend they meet with all local Small Business Administration (SBA) partners at least once
    • Complete the Phase 1 Progress Report and review it with their Coach, the Center and Commerce
    • Commerce will send an approval or denial email to the participant and copy the Center
    • Complete all requirements of Phase 1 within 3 months. The participant’s start date is the date on the acceptance email from Commerce
    • Complete and submit the expense report for Phase 1 with accompanying documentation
    • Complete the Business Model Canvas

    What to spend the funds on?

    • Build a web presence
      • Landing page
    • Start your marketing
    • Copywriting

    Completion of Phase 1 does not guarantee acceptance into Phase 2

    Schedule your 1 minute pitch
  • Phase 2 - $6000

    Overview:

    A voucher reimbursement program where the participant is eligible for up to $6,000 in reimbursable expenses through the Entrepreneur Center. The participant has 6 months to complete all Phase 2 requirements.

    Steps to complete phase 2:

    • Complete a minimum of 30 customer interviews
    • Meet with the coach at their Center every other week
    • We recommend continued engagement with local Small Business Administration (SBA) partners
    • Complete the Phase 2 Progress Report and review it with their Coach, the Center and Commerce 4
    • Complete all requirements of Phase 2 within 6 months. The participant’s start date is the date on the acceptance email into Phase 2 from Commerce.
    • Complete and submit the Expense Report for Phase 2 with accompanying documentation
    • Complete the Business Model Canvas

    What to spend the funds on?

    • Build your minimum viable product (MVP)
    • Expand your web presence
      • Landing page
      • Full website
    • Continued marketing
      • Social media campaigns
      • Email campaigns
      • Webinar creation
    • Video production
    • Copywriting
    • Equipment
      • Computers
      • Printers
      • Software

    Completion of Phase 2 does not guarantee acceptance into Phase 3

    Schedule your 5 minute pitch
  • Phase 3 - $12000

    Overview:

    A voucher reimbursement program where the participant is eligible for up to $12,000 in reimbursable expenses through the Entrepreneur Center. The participants must demonstrate they have met the match requirement equal to 25% of the award dollars reimbursed – a minimum of $5,000. The participant has 6 months to complete all phase 3 requirements.

    Steps to complete phase 3:

    • Complete a minimum of 40 customer interviews
    • Meet with the coach at their Center every other week
    • We recommend continued engagement with local Small Business Administration (SBA) partners
    • Complete the Phase 3 Progress Report and review it with their Coach, the Center and Commerce
    • Complete and submit the expense report for Phase 3 with accompanying documentation
    • Complete the Business Model Canvas
    • Must have an investment match of a minimum of $5,000. Equal to 25% of the reimbursed expenses. The match may be from eligible expenses or investment that occurred on or after the start date in Phase 1
    • Complete all requirements of Phase 3 within 6 months. Participant’s start date is the date on the acceptance email into Phase 3 from Commerce.

    What to spend the funds on?

    • Build your minimum viable product (MVP)
    • Add enhancements to software/website/product
    • Continued marketing
      • Social media campaigns
      • Email campaigns
      • Webinar creation
    • Social ad spend
    • Social media management
    • Fix bugs
    • Video production
    • Copywriting
    • Equipment
      • Computers
      • Printers
      • Software

    Completion of Phase 3 does not guarantee acceptance into Phase 4

    Schedule your 15 minute pitch
  • Phase 4 - $20000

    Overview:

    A grant program where the participant is eligible for up to $20,000. The participant must meet all requirements of the agreement between Commerce and the Center then sign. Participant must demonstrate they have met the match requirement equal to a minimum of $5,000 in investment. The participant must meet all requirements of N.D.C.C 54-60.1.

    Steps to complete phase 4:

    • All Phase 1, 2 and 3 requirements and expenses must be completed prior to eligibility for Phase 4.
    • The participant must complete the Phase 4 grant application and submit to the Coach
    • The participant must be invited by the Center and Commerce to pitch their business idea once they have demonstrated they’ve met all requirements of Phases 1 through 3 and completed the Phase 4 grant application. Completion of Phases 1 through 3 does not guarantee the participant entry into Phase 4.
    • The participant must provide a 15-minute pitch of their business idea, value proposition and customer segment to the panel. The presentation and participant must clearly demonstrate and articulate:
      • The Business Plan
      • Financials
      • Customer segment
      • Executive staff
      • Market segment
    • The participants will pitch in front of a panel of industry experts, the Centers and Commerce. The panel will determine if the participant is accepted into Phase 4.
    • Commerce will send an approval or denial email to the participant and copy the Center
    • If approved, the participant, the Center, and Commerce will sign the Phase 4 Grant Agreement – the participant agrees to meet all requirements in the Grant Agreement and the participant must meet all requirements of the Business Incentive Accountability Law N.D.C.C. Chapter 54-60.1.
    • The participant has 12 months to complete Phase 4. The start date is written into the Phase 4 Grant Agreement.
    • The participant must demonstrate they have met the match requirement equal to a minimum of $5,000 in investment for Phase 4.
    • Commerce provides payment to Center. Center provides payment to Participant:
      • Payment of the first $10,000 occurs after the agreement is signed.
      • Payment of the second $10,000 occurs after Commerce receives the following:
        • Invoices, receipts, and supporting documentation on how the first $10,000 was spent.
        • Proof the $5,000 match requirement was met
        • The Phase 4 Mid-Term Program Report
    • At the end of the agreement term, the participant is required to provide invoices, receipts, and supporting documentation on how the second $10,000 was spent and complete the Phase 4 Final Program Report.

    What to spend the funds on?

    • Continued marketing
      • Social media campaigns
      • Email campaigns
      • Webinar creation
    • Add enhancements to software/website/product
    • Fix bugs
    • Social media management
    • Copywriting
    • Equipment
      • Computers
      • Printers
      • Software

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