Arlington, Virginia

Arlington Innovation Fund

Catalyst Grant Program


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Arlington Economic Development is excited to continue the Arlington Innovation Fund (AIF) Catalyst Grant Program, a tool to help increase funding for early-stage technology startups through technical assistance and non-dilutive, co-investment grants ranging from $25,000 – $50,000. These grants allow companies to extend their runway of funding and gain access to larger venture capital rounds, expanding their customer base, employment and operations. 

    Grant Process

    Catalyst Grant Application Process.png

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    Grant Award

    Minimum Qualifications

    • Must be a registered LLC, S-Corp or C-Corp, with the principal office address in Arlington according to the Virginia State Corporation Commission (virtual addresses and P.O. boxes are NOT ELIGIBLE)
    • Must be a for-profit company 
    • Must have at least one full-time employee
    • Must have raised a minimum of $25,000 but no more than $1,000,000. Please see FAQ section for a full list of eligible matching capital types.
    • Primary source of revenue must be derived from the sale, licensure or distribution of proprietary technology
    • Must be current on all applicable Arlington County taxes 

    Application Requirements 

    Complete an online application for the Catalyst Grant and provide the following items:

    • A three-minute fundraising pitch video
    • A business plan executive summary, no more than three pages
    • A copy of your most recent Arlington business license

    *Applicants that proceed to the next evaluation stage will be required to submit additional information.

    Award Calculation

    Companies must demonstrate that they have raised a minimum of $25,000, up to $1,000,000. Once verified, grants will be between $25,000 and $50,000, with the maximum amount being a 1:1 match to the amount the company has raised at the time of application.

    Award Usage

    Funds awarded through the Catalyst Grant can be used for any business operation expenses incurred by the startup. Examples include machinery and equipment, office supplies, hiring consultants or advisors, purchasing of services, and tenant upgrades to commercial office space.

    Distribution & Obligations

    Award Distribution

    Grants will be disbursed in two equal payments. Payment one will be disbursed when the company has completed the SBDC 2.5-week introductory course or submitted an approved waiver. Payment two will be disbursed when the company completes its 6-month check-in with Arlington Economic Development staff.

    Company Obligations 

    If a company is awarded a grant, they will be required to sign a performance agreement between the company and Arlington County. The company will be responsible for obligations outlined in the performance agreement including, but not limited to:

    • Maintaining an Arlington presence for a two-year performance period;
    • Enrolling in and completing the Virginia SBDC’s ICAP 2.5-week introductory course within 90 days of IDA approval;
    • Completing a virtual or in-person reporting check-in with AED at the initial 6-month period; and
    • Completing two annual, written reporting check-ins after the initial 6-month reporting period. 


    Selection Criteria

    Grant Award Selection Criteria

    An internal committee of AED staff, supported by a third-party vendor, will evaluate all applications for the Arlington Innovation Fund’s Catalyst Grant Program. Only selected companies that meet the base qualifications of the program will be asked to proceed to the next evaluation stage.

    At the request of County staff and the third-party vendor, applicants may be required to provide additional information prior to funding an award.

    Applications are assessed on factors, including but not limited to:

    • Experience of the company’s leadership
    • Strength of the business model
    • Funding potential
    • Proof of concept
    • Potential for growth
    • Return on investment to Arlington County

    Any business not classified as a technology company will not be considered. For the purpose of this program, a technology company is classified as a business whose primary source of revenue is derived from the sale, licensure or distribution of proprietary technology.

    Catalyst Grant Program funds are awarded to a company at the County's discretion and are based on the recommendations of the internal review committee and third-party vendor.

    By applying, companies agree to have their company logo, company name, and founder information available to share with the public via Arlington Economic Development’s website, promotional materials, and social media handles. Additionally, companies agree to have their information included in any press releases applicable to the Arlington Innovation Fund.

    Arlington Economic Development will not share confidential or sensitive information provided by the company.

    Terms & Conditions

    Grant Terms and Conditions Summary

    • Companies selected to receive award must sign a performance agreement with Arlington County and the Arlington County Industrial Development Authority (IDA). Funds will be distributed by the IDA.
    • The agreement will last for two years. During these two years, companies must:
      • Have their primary office address in Arlington, Virginia
      • Submit three performance reports that include information on number and types of employees, square footage occupied and capital funding. There are no performance targets to receive payment.
    • Funds will be distributed in two parts within six months of award
      • First 50% of funds will be distributed within 30 days of completion of ICAP or approved waiver
      • Second 50% of funds will be distributed within 30 days of receiving six-month performance report
    • Repayment of funds can be required in one of four circumstances
      • If business relocates primary office address outside of Arlington, Virginia. Repayment of all funds required if it occurs in first year, 50% of funds to be repaid if it occurs in second year.
      • If business fails to submit performance reporting. Repayment of all funds required if either of the first two performance reports are not submitted; 50% of funds to be repaid if the final performance reporting is not submitted.
      • If business is found to have used Grant funds for illegal or otherwise unauthorized purposes, as detailed in the terms and conditions of the performance agreement, the business will be required to repay all funds received from the Grant Program.
      • If the business is later revealed to have been untruthful in its application materials, the business will be required to repay all funds received from the Grant Program. 

    Catalyst Grant Frequently Asked Questions

    What is Arlington’s definition of a technology company per Arlington County Code Chapter 66-3?

    For purposes of the Catalyst Grant, Chapter 66-3 (A) of the Arlington County code defines a technology company as “a business with its primary source of gross receipts derived from the sale, licensure or distribution of proprietary technology.”


    Can my company be awarded the Catalyst Grant more than once?

    Companies may receive up to $50,000 in Catalyst Grant awards. If a company receives an award amount less than $50,000 the company may apply for an additional grant. The total of all awards cannot exceed $50,000. E.g. If a company is awarded a grant of $30,000, they may apply for funds in a future round and receive up to $20,000.


    Can I apply without an Arlington business license?

    If you do not have an Arlington business license you must apply for one before submitting an AIF Catalyst Grant Application. An Arlington business license is required prior to receiving a grant award.


    I have a startup but am not working full-time on the venture. Do I qualify for the program?

    No. A minimum qualification for the program is that the company have at least one full-time employee to be considered.


    I am a full-time employee of my startup but am a home-based business. Do I meet the initial requirements?

    Yes. Home-based technology startups will be considered for this program given the home address is based in Arlington County, the business is an LLC, S-Corp or C-Corp with the Virginia State Corporation Commission, and meets the Arlington County Code definition of a technology company. Other minimum qualifications apply.


    What are you looking for in the three-minute fundraising pitch video?

    A compelling pitch should:

    • Summarize who you are, the problem you are solving and how your product solves it;
    • Demonstrate market demand or plan for market validation;
    • Communicate the value proposition for the target market; and
    • Describe what trends will help scale product adoption.


    My company has business debt that it would like to pay off. Can we use grant funds towards paying off business debt?

    No. Funds may not be used for creating liquidity for founders, retiring outstanding debt, and/or any expenses not associated with the business. Any misuse of funds will result in a full repayment of the grant to Arlington County. Additionally, that company will be barred from future consideration of all incentive programs offered by Arlington County.


    Can Arlington County claw back the grant from a company?

    Yes. There are scenarios when Arlington County would claw back the payment, including:

    • Misuse of grant funds for non-business operation expenses
    • Failure to complete SBDC’s ICAP 2.5 week introductory course
    • Failure to check in with AED staff at required check-ins
    • Failure to maintain the company’s principal office address in Arlington for a two-year performance period


    I have completed a course or accelerator program similar to SBDC’s ICAP 2.5 week introductory course. Can a waiver be considered for the program(s) I have already completed?

    Yes. Arlington Economic Development will consider waivers of other courses or accelerator programs that provide similar content to SBDC’s ICAP 2.5 week introductory course. The founder will need to sign a waiver form confirming participation and provide documentation that the course or accelerator program was completed by the founder.


    What forms of capital qualify for the $25,000 up to $1,000,000 funding requirement?

    There are several forms of capital that qualify towards the funding requirement, including:

    • Early-stage venture capital
    • Institutional investment
    • Angel investment
    • Friends and family
    • Personal investment
    • Crowdfunding
    • Convertible debt
    • Venture debt
    • SAFE notes
    • Accelerator and incubator grants
    • Other grants

    Contact Us

    Sumeet Saini

    Business Development Manager

    Have questions about the Arlington Innovation Fund or Catalyst Grants? Please don't hesitate to reach out.

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