The Federal Government offers a variety of grant opportunities to start or fund a business that furthers one of the national interests of the United States. These grant programs are administered by a number of offices within the government to meet certain objectives: improving the telecommunications or broadband access within the country, providing services or products that aid in national defense, increasing the United States’ commitment to clean and green energy, aid for Tribes and Native American populations, among dozens of others. Some companies that start businesses or research into these fields seek government grants to fund their startup costs, but navigating the multitudes of forms and proposals necessary to complete the grant process takes years of experience that the brightest young minds of the next generation, like those enrolled in Ivy League universities, simply don’t have. These entrepreneurial individuals depend on the experience of advisors and professors to reach their goals of creating social entrepreneurship programs that promise to change the world.
Harvard Business School’s New Venture Competition
Harvard Business School hosts the New Venture Competition, where students compete in a year-long entrepreneurial program for over $150,000 in cash and in-kind prizes. Harvard also offers a version of the NVC for alumni in 15 regions around the world. A few notable startups you may have heard of? Birchbox and Cloudflare, not to mention Alfred, which went on to win TechCrunch and Disrupt 2014 and a seed round of $2M in startup capital within a year of completing HBS’s entrepreneurial track. Unlike a traditional startup, starting a company while enrolled at Harvard Business School makes it slightly easier to work on projects that are often called “social entrepreneurship” — the pursuit of a company that is not entirely profit-focused — as the university supports these projects financially, with business grants, and with resources, like help writing business grant proposals, that might be otherwise unattainable.
Yale Entrepreneurial Institute
Yale’s Entrepreneurial Institute also supports a platform of global social entrepreneurship, specifically with YEI’s Global Social Venture Creation Program, a program offered by Yale to students to support the social entrepreneurship aspirations of students. Two student-led startups were appointed to YEI in 2016, and one group of five students from the Yale School of Music received a grant to create a startup that aims to foster dialogue about effective approaches to practicing instruments.
Access to business grants from the federal government is not guaranteed by enrolling in one of these university programs of study, but with the help of professors and advisors, and the right idea, students may be eligible to receive substantial assistance in launching their startup from the federal government in addition to the funds available to startups in any sector, like awards from business plan competitions, seed capital and angel investors.