Tech venture accelerator for women-owned businesses seeks applications – BizWest

BOULDER — As a Boulder-based accelerator and funder for women-owned businesses wraps up its work, a fledgling statewide program is beginning to accept applications.

The TechSource commercialization program, launched by the Colorado Small Business Development Center, has opened applications for its virtual Tech Venture Accelerator for Women. The program is offered to technology-startup entrepreneurs who are women as well as women-identifying, non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals.

Ten spots are available in the new cohort, the program’s fourth, for innovative women-owned science and technology businesses. The 10-part cohort series is designed to help emerging companies in Colorado’s advanced industries overcome hurdles to accelerate growth and development. It focuses on growth through non-dilutive capital sources and technology commercialization.

Unique to this accelerator program is the assistance offered through federal and state innovation grants as a source of non-dilutive capital. Specialized expertise is provided to each business in critical areas, including identifying relevant Small Business Innovation Research agencies and topics, understanding the proposal process and applying research and market data to develop technology commercialization plans that will support grant submissions.

The weekly two-hour virtual sessions, to be held on Thursday mornings March 7 through

May 9, are facilitated discussions with founders, C-level executives and subject-matter experts who will share challenges and successes and help to find constructive solutions.

Outside of the cohort group, each participating business will receive extensive consulting customized to the specific needs and stage of their venture. Topics include market research, customer discovery, federal research-and-development tax credits, SBIR and Advanced Industries grants, marketing and business-model strategies, protecting and marking intellectual property, legal matters and non-dilutive sources of funding.

Interested businesses can register for a virtual informational session from 10 to 11 a.m. Tuesday and can register online at Another virtual info session will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. March 2.

Because of the Federal and State Technology Partnership (FAST) grant that funds the program, the cost to participate in the TVX-W cohort will be fully offset for accepted businesses.

Meanwhile, a Boulder-based accelerator aimed at a wider swath of female entrepreneurs is in the process of shutting down.

“After eight great years of investing in women-led companies through our accelerator and then our funds, MergeLane is working through putting our final fund to work in a last few terrific startups,” said Liz Nelson, operations coordinator for MergeLane.

Founded by Sue Heilbronner and Elizabeth Kraus, MergeLane briefly ran a traditional accelerator but then in 2017 decided to focus on becoming a “funderator,” a mix of fund and accelerator. The funderator was a seven-day program that included  two-and-a-half days of conscious leadership work to help startups become more self-aware and understand the patterns of their team members, followed by four-and-a-half days of meeting with MergeLane’s network of mentors.

It invested in dozens of high-potential startups and venture-capital funds with at least one female leader.

In 2018, it raised $20 million for a “Highway Fund,” to invest in startups and venture-capital funds with at least one female partner.