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Learn about the program!

Meet all of our alumni!

Creative Startups Creative Technology Accelerator 

Presented with support from the SBA Growth Accelerator Fund Competition

re you building a highly innovative, scientifically-grounded, creative-tech company with strong commercialization potential? Have you ever considered applying for SBIR/STTR funding but aren't sure if your idea is ready? Then this program is for you! 

The 2020 Creative Tech Accelerator supports highly innovative tech companies looking to explore the technological and commercialization potential of their creative idea prior to applying for an SBIR/STTR Grant (in either Phase I or II). During this rigorous program you will refine your knowledge and skills relating to a variety of key SBIR/STTR concepts in preparation for submitting your application.

Applications are open now through July 5th!

Apply Here Now!

Join the online info session!

MAY 29th: 10-11:30 am MDT

Join us!

Frequently Asked Questions

 What are the SBIR/STTR programs? What's the difference?

"The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, also known as America’s Seed Fund, are one of the largest sources of early-stage capital for technology commercialization in the United States. These programs allow US-owned and operated small businesses to engage in federal research and development that has a strong potential for commercialization."

SBIR: "The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization. By including qualified small businesses in the nation's R&D arena, high-tech innovation is stimulated and the United States gains entrepreneurial spirit as it meets its specific research and development needs." 

STTR: "Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) is another program that expands funding opportunities in the federal innovation research and development (R&D) arena. Central to the program is expansion of the public/private sector partnership to include the joint venture opportunities for small businesses and nonprofit research institutions. The unique feature of the STTR program is the requirement for the small business to formally collaborate with a research institution in Phase I and Phase II. STTR's most important role is to bridge the gap between performance of basic science and commercialization of resulting innovations."

 Do I have to complete an SBIR/STTR application to be eligible for the accelerator?


It is not required that all participants in this program complete an SBIR/STTR application, but preference will be given to applicants working towards completing either a Phase I or Phase II* application. 

*Only individuals who have received Phase I awards are eligible for Phase II applications.

 Free federal funding for my startup? Cool! How do I know if my business is eligible? 


Rules vary slightly between participating agencies for SBIR and STTR but generally, businesses are eligible to apply for an award if they meet the following conditions: 

  • Your business is a registered for-proofit that is both located in the United States and whose primary business activities take place in the United States
  • Your business is at least 51% United States owned. The SBA defines this as “having at least 51% of its ownership by U.S. citizens and/or permanent resident aliens,” or 51% owned by other U.S. based small business. 
  • Your business has less than 500 employees.
  • You are "primarily employed" by the business. For SBIR applicants must be “primarily employed” by the business, meaning at least 51% of their time is devoted to their business. For STTR applicants you must be at least 51% employed by either the small business or collaborating non-profit research institution. 

    You are welcome to apply for the Accelerator even if your business does not at present meet all of these conditions. 

What are the dates of the 2020 Accelerator?


Stay tuned! Dates will be announced shortly!


Can I talk to someone in-person about the Accelerator? 


You betcha! We welcome inquiries. Fill out our Accelerator inquiry form and we will be in touch. 


What are the classes about?


The Creative Startups curriculum was built from scratch by creative entrepreneurs - for creative entrepreneurs. Working with Stanford faculty we have created an awesome, robust, and effective learning journey for creative founders. Topics include customer discovery, business model development, branding, cash flow analysis, financing new ventures, legal topics, and more. Classes meet weekly with and additional peer-to-peer meeting each week - yep, it’s intense! 


What should I expect for time commitment if accepted into the accelerator?


Most founders tell us they spend about 18 hours/week for the 6 weeks of the course. As an entrepreneur, you know that you get out of it what you put into it!


I am the only founder of my business - can I still apply?


Yes. However, we encourage teams of two founders or partners. All applying team members are expected to participate fully in the course, and we do not allow team members who do not apply and pay tuition to "drop in" or attend sessions occasionally. 


We are a nonprofit startup - can we apply?


Unfortunately not this year -- SBIR/STTR eligible companies must be for-profit entities. 


We don't think venture capital investment is right for our startup, should we still apply?


Yes.  We believe that VC/angel investment is only suited to some entrepreneurs, some startups.  Our Mentors include creative entrepreneurs who built their firms without outside investment and others who have successfully worked with VCs.  We will have honest discussions with trusted VCs and entrepreneurs who can offer you advice and guidance on making these decisions wisely.


I have a great idea for a business, but I haven't started my business yet - should I apply?


Creative Startups Accelerator is built for creative entrepreneurs who are past the idea stage and are actively building out their venture. If you are pre-revenue you might be agreat fit for our LABS or our Libraries as Launchpads programs! If you are just getting started with your new idea consider applying next year. 


My company is a few years old - can we still apply to Creative Startups?


Yes, you should apply!  Creative Startups has worked with companies that are still in startup phase despite being several years old. Our judges will generally “pass” on companies that are over 5 years old AND have reached $5million in annual revenue.


Is this program restricted to only New Mexico startups?




How much is the fee?


$200 USD per founder. 


What does the fee cover?


The fee covers all Virtual Accelerator materials, supplies, food during the Deep Dive, and 12 months of mentoring. 


What are the selection process and judging criteria for applicants?


The application requires brief written descriptions of your business, your goals, and your team's background. 

Selection criteria includes: Creative and innovative contribution to your field (film, music, design, etc.); commercialization and market potential; traction; level of scientific background/inquiry; team's passion and experience.


Are there funding opportunities?


Funding opportunities for the Albuquerque program are still pending. Stay tuned for more info!


What counts as a "creative tech" company? 


The creative industries include a wide range of sectors, everything from music and dance to AR/VR and animation. This year we're really looking for companies that are focused on utilizing advanced technologies and creativity to drive innovation. This might look like using VR for healthcare providers like our alumni Embodied Labs, developing a patened video experience system for events like alumni,  or, like alumni Eila, using AI and machine learning to transform how businesses and their customers interact. 


The most valuable part of Creative Startups is the network: its like a customized group of people who know how to specifically help you. And, there's a lot of support for the creative side of the business.


This program is made possible by a U.S. Small Business Administration Growth Accelerator Fund Competition prize. The Growth Accelerator Fund Competition infuses accelerators and incubators with additional operating capital to provide focused assistance to entrepreneurs. This assistance includes support for company formation as well as awareness and education on the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. 

The Richard P. Feynman Center for Innovation (FCI) at Los Alamos National Laboratory sustains a culture that revolves around converting new ideas into solutions. They facilitate this conversion by aligning Laboratory capabilities with industry’s challenges and with our country’s need to protect against threats.