RICHMOND, VA, July 21, 2016 – Governor Terry McAuliffe has announced that the Commonwealth of Virginia and Village Capital will host the weeklong Virginia Velocity Tour, which will provide $125,000 in funding to startups in the biotechnology, health, energy, agriculture, and security sectors.

The tour kicks off on September 19, 2016, and applications for businesses to participate will be accepted until August 11. 

The Virginia Velocity Tour will travel across Virginia from September 19-23, with each stop highlighting a particular regional strength. Each day will feature a full day of events culminating in public pitch competitions to be held in Roanoke, Richmond, Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia, and Charlottesville. Entrepreneurs from across the Commonwealth will pitch their business plans to local judges for a $25,000 equity-free grant prize. Five prizes will be awarded, a total of $125,000.

“Entrepreneurship is critical to job creation and economic growth in Virginia,” said Governor McAuliffe. “The Virginia Velocity Tour offers a great incentive for entrepreneurs to showcase their ideas and encourages startups that the best place to locate business is here in Virginia. Small, innovative business endeavors often bring the greatest contributions to an industry and we will continue to support programs like these that build and diversify our new Virginia economy.”

Each stop will focus on a specific industry theme highlighting a particular regional strength, including energy, STEM, biotechnology/health, cybersecurity and agriculture. Each competition will feature up to eight entrepreneurs from across the Commonwealth who work in that industry. Prior to the pitch competitions, the entrepreneurs will participate in public and private events that celebrate the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and convene local leaders for roundtable discussions. The tour will also include stops at local incubators and established businesses as part of “startup crawls.”

“We believe that the future of entrepreneurship will be more aligned with the Chesapeake Bay than the San Francisco Bay,” said Ross Baird, CEO of Village Capital, which is partnering to plan the tour. "Over 75 percent of venture capital goes to California, Massachusetts and New York, and the entrepreneurs who get funding are likely to be solving problems that make the lives of well-off people a little easier. When you look at the industries that really matter for our society in the long term - agriculture, energy, health and others - Virginia is leading the way.”

“We are thrilled to support this tour,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “Over the past two decades, innovation, demographic shifts and globalization have transformed our nation’s economy and redefined opportunity in the American workplace. Virginia is well positioned to stay in front of these trends and support entrepreneurs producing jobs in sectors that matter.”

Entrepreneurs can apply to participate online at Applications close on August 11, and selected entrepreneurs will be announced in late August.

Village Capital, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, sources, trains and invests in seed-stage entrepreneurs with business solutions to major global problems in agriculture, energy, education, financial inclusion, and health, and then puts the power of investment in the hands of the entrepreneurs, who allocate investments to the two ventures ranked highest by their peers at the end of every program. Over the past seven years, the organization has supported over 500 companies in 15 countries; this year, Village Capital is working with 27 communities around the world to implement sector-focused, peer-reviewed investments in local entrepreneurs through its VilCap Communities initiative.

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