On Monday, the Loudoun Economic Development Authority and Department of Economic Development announced four winners for the inaugural Loudoun Innovation Challenge. The three $25,000 grants and one grand prize $75,000 grant will be paid out immediately through the Economic Development Authority.
The Innovation Challenge, launched in January and closing for applications on March 31, 2020, received 71 qualified applications, in all stages of development, representing a cross-section of Loudoun’s diverse economy.
From the original pool of submissions, applications were whittled down through a comprehensive internal scoring process. The original goal of six finalists was expanded to eight after the Economic Development Authority directors concluded that there was an abundance of worthy applications.
All finalists had five minutes to make their pitch at the Economic Development Authority’s April 28 meeting. Listed in alphabetical order, here are the eight finalists:
- Calypso AI
- Qore Performance
“The high caliber of applications shows the amazing opportunities for innovation in all corners of Loudoun County,” Department of Economic Development and Economic Development Authority Executive Director Buddy Rizer said. “In addition to businesses we have worked with in the past, we were excited to see so many new faces in the pool of applicants. This is just the beginning of our work with all of these #LoudounPossible success stories.”
The grants are just one facet of the Economic Development Authority’s investment in Loudoun’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and are intended to be both a business attraction and retention tool.
“We wanted to highlight what a great place Loudoun County is to start and grow your business,” explained Economic Development Authority Chairman Mark Madigan. “This is an opportunity to elevate the profile of entrepreneurship in Loudoun. Opening this up for anyone that’s either interested in staying in Loudoun or moving to Loudoun County was important.”
Qore Performance, also based in Sterling, built the IceAge Ecosystem, a low-profile hydration and cooling system that provides environmental inoculation and performance enhancement for man and machine.
“Being selected as a 2020 Loudoun Innovation Challenge winner is both tremendous and humbling because Loudoun County is home to so many incredible startups and small businesses,” Qore Performance Co-Founder and CEO Justin Li said. “This is the latest of many signs that we should have not just moved here sooner, but we should have started our company here!
“Buddy Rizer, Danelle Hayer, Brian Tinsman and the whole team at the Loudoun Economic Development Authority have been incredibly responsive and supportive since the day we moved here. We couldn’t ask for better partners for the future of our company!”