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Startup Tucson Wins Stage One of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2024 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition

Startup Tucson was awarded $50,000 in prize money for equitable access to entrepreneurship in the ag-tech and food innovation areas

April 25, 2024 - Tucson, AZ This week, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced Startup Tucson as a Stage One winner for the 2024 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition (GAFC). Startup Tucson will receive a $50,000 cash prize for its impactful and inclusive approach to nurturing a collaborative national innovation ecosystem to advance small business research and development (R&D) from ideas to the market in the agricultural and food innovation areas.


By fostering connections between entrepreneurs, mentors, partners, philanthropies, corporations, investors, and other shared resources, GAFC 2024 catalyzes strategic ecosystem partnerships to build community and organizational capacity for the successful launch, growth, and scale of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)-based entrepreneurs.


Startup Tucson’s award-winning FEAST (Food, Entrepreneurship, Agriculture, Science, and Technology Ecosystem for Arizona) program will jumpstart a cohesive state-wide ag-tech and food innovation ecosystem resulting in new opportunities for partners, rural communities, and underserved entrepreneurs.

“Our goal is to help act as a convener in creating a coordinated, collaborative, and inclusive ecosystem that will help Arizona become a leader in innovative agricultural practices. This ecosystem will be a place to share best practices and help propel our local economy, entrepreneurs, and community forward,” says Liz Pocock, CEO of Startup Tucson.


Two Stages

SBA welcomed Stage One submissions from a broad range of organizations with a collaborative vision to nurture a national ecosystem for equitable access to entrepreneurship. Winners of Stage One were selected through a multi-tier review panel process with experts in entrepreneurship, business, innovation, and strategic planning both inside and out of the federal government. In Stage One, Startup Tucson plans to bring together partners from across the food and agriculture ecosystem to learn from each other and create a shared vision for agricultural and food innovation in Southern Arizona. They also plan to launch an agriculture and food innovation EXPO at the next TENWEST Impact Festival.

Stage Two offers an additional $50,000 to $150,000 in cash prizes for Growth Accelerator Partnerships. Startup Tucson is hoping to receive Stage Two funding along with its partners to help support the launching of a FEAST Ecosystem Incubator, an educational platform aimed at accelerating the growth of all players within the agricultural ecosystem, leveraging the connections and insights gained in Stage One. To learn more about Stage Two opportunities and to access the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Guidelines, please visit


The real opportunity is now to build up innovation ecosystems and Startup Tucson is eager to deepen its collaborative impact in AgTech and Agricultural Innovation. Startup Tucson’s application video and summary slides are included below. To get involved as a partner in FEAST, reach out to Startup Tucson directly at

FEAST Overview

(Food, Entrepreneurship, Agriculture, Science, and Technology Ecosystem for Arizona)

Check out our video here!

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