Entrepreneur Innovation Awards

Connecticut’s Premier Pitch Event Discovers Rising Stars

The EIA is back live and in person on Thursday, October 14th, 2021. Applications are now being accepted.

A digital platform for testing variations in cancer therapies simultaneously. An app solution for remote voting invented by two teenagers. A sonar device that will prevent drownings in public pools. A new microphone technology that allows patients with full-face oxygen masks to communicate with caregivers and loved ones.

These are just four of the most recent winners of CTNext’s Entrepreneur Innovation Awards (EIA), the state’s oldest and most recognized pitch competition. The EIA was created to help reveal the state’s most promising and technologically innovative early-stage startups, and to give them a $10,000 cash grant to help them move their ideas and businesses to the next level.

The Process

EIA events are traditionally held three times a year at various locations around Connecticut. EIA moved online during the COVID-19 crisis, but plans are to return to a live networking event on October 14 in New Haven – details to come.

An application is required to pitch at the EIA, and although there is a “call for entries” period in the weeks before an event, a company can apply at any time for the next event (until the deadline for entries for that specific event is reached). Applications are reviewed and scored, and 10 finalists are selected for each event. Those selected will be invited to present their idea for funding live to a panel of entrepreneurs, investors, and business experts.

Any Connecticut startup is eligible. Projects for an EIA must have a clear deliverable milestone that will help the company propel itself to the next stage. Projects can include small-scale prototyping, preparatory work for R&D, performance testing, compliance testing, product or service development, innovation or technology audits, market research, customer development, engineering design, technology transfer, or licensing.

Expenses ineligible for funding include any expenditure of time by in-house personnel of the applicant, routine and readily-predictable business expenses, any administrative fee or surcharge for administering these expenditures, design and production of marketing or advertising materials, promotion activities, costs associated with applying for government grants or programs, costs of internships or support for students of knowledge institutions, basic professional services such as ongoing routine accounting, tax and legal business requirements or financing fees, routine testing and maintenance, travel and entertainment costs, or hospitality costs.

Applicant must submit:

Online EIA application

• PowerPoint describing the company, proposed project and budget

• Letters of good standing from the Department of Labor, Secretary of State and Department of Revenue Services. Instructions can be found here

• An optional five-minute video pitch, specific to the proposed project

Online registration as a CTNext Member

Although each individual project grant cannot exceed $10,000, applicants are eligible to win $30,000 in grants over the lifetime of the company. Therefore, applicants can submit and be awarded $10,000 grants up to three times. Grant projects should begin upon receipt of the EIA offer letter. The grant must be used to pay for the work as outlined in the application process. Funds are disbursed directly to the awarded company based on project milestones. Please keep in mind that awardees are expected to achieve the project’s scope of services as outlined and approved in the application. Any substantial changes must be consistent with the overall intention of the approved project and communicated with CTNext. Any termination of the project by the award recipient must also be communicated to CTNext.

To receive updates about the next EIA event, register to be a CTNext member today!