A small business grant is money awarded once the applicant meets the criteria of the granting organization. A grant does not have to be repaid. Typically, grants target a specific focus:

  • research and development target area,
  • industry specific need (such as rural agriculture, infrastructure solutions or education)
  • people or communities identified as unserved or disadvantaged; which may include veterans, women, and/or BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) communities. 

How do I find grants?

There are several sources to research grants. The task can be daunting. For example, over 2000 federal grants are listed on Grants.Gov. Those available to small businesses are far fewer and tend to fall in the above listed categories. Once your business has a defined vision and plan, you may begin to search. Common options include state, federal, local and those from corporate and private foundations.

Keeping the list current would require multiple staff members. Therefore, we are providing links to several of the most common grant sites and Virginia grants. We recommend meeting with a CV SBDC advisor to explore your options.

In the wake of COVID-19, CV SBDC’s COVID 19 pages list grants specifically available for Central Virginia businesses. Covidcap.com is a capital relief resource for entrepreneurs everywhere. The searchable database includes grants, loans, and other cash equivalents that can help entrepreneurs and businesses. 

Grants for Small Business: Myth vs. Reality – presentation by Daniel McCoy, UGA SBDC

Commonly issued grants in the state of Virginia:

Small Business Innovation Research  The SBIR program is designed for small businesses engaged in research and development that have commercial potential, with the aim to stimulate technological innovation and scientific entrepreneurship. $150,000 – $1M.

Small Business Technology Transfer The STTR has similar goals as the SBIR program but requires their small business applicants to collaborate with a research institution. Five federal agencies currently participate in this program, setting aside a bit of their budget to work with small businesses. $150,000 -$1M.

Commonwealth Commercialization Fund Administered by Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology (CIT), CRCF invests in priority research and commercialization activities through the private sector, academia, and nonprofit research institutes. Approximately $2.5MM awarded annually through its programs – see examples of programs here.

Virginia Catalyst Grant Program Awards annual grants to fund development and commercialization of life science projects that address major unmet needs for improving human health and advancing Virginia’s economy. Awards from $200,000 – $800,000.

FinImpact keeps a current list of the top grants available, primarily for BIPOC entrepreneurs.