Entrepreneurship IGNITE Grant Winners Push Boundaries in Space, AI and Diagnostics

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Provided by Prince William County Economic Development Department

Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chair Deshundra Jefferson announced three winners in the IGNITE Startup Grant program at the annual Make Your Mark Business Community Celebration last week. The county’s signature entrepreneurial program provides opportunities for education, funding, and networking during pivotal years for scaling startups and high-growth businesses.

Each representative took home $100,000 for their company:

  • Polaris Genomics leases lab space in the Prince William Science Accelerator in Innovation Park. The company blends technology and biology to reduce reliance on subjective questionnaires and advance the development of precise tools and diagnostics for a range of conditions, including PTSD, depression, anxiety, ADHD, TBI, and substance use disorder.
  • Headquartered in Manassas, Smart Response Technologies has developed Delphini™, a cloud-based intelligence software for first responders aimed at eradicating miscommunication and missed communication. It leverages a patented real-time AI engine to deliver live radio and 911 call transcription.
  • The Spaceport Company is in Woodbridge with a team that has over 30 years of combined experience in the space and infrastructure industries. The company has developed an innovative launch tracking system assembled in a transportable container, enabling swift deployment of their technology anywhere it is needed to support launch missions to space.

IGNITE_cohort_May2024

L to R: Dr. Tshaka Cunningham, Polaris Genomics; Christina Winn, PWCDEDT; Chair Deshundra Jefferson, BOCS; Tom Marotta, The Spaceport Company; Roger Mann, Smart Response Technologies; Chris Shorter, Prince William County Government.

“We are thrilled to welcome new faces —and recognize the achievements of those businesses who continue to make their mark on our community,” said Jefferson. “I am proud that this IGNITE Startup Grant cohort is such an impressive group of innovative companies across different industries.”

The pilot IGNITE program was funded by the CARES Act in 2020 and ended up awarding grants totaling $600,000 in 2021 and 2022.

Relaunched in 2023 and funded by ARPA monies, the grant program added an award category of up to $100,000 with successful performance metrics and included new criteria, ensuring applicants are outside the NOVA EDA (Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax City, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fauquier, Loudoun, Manassas, and Manassas Park) to respect the commitment to our partners in the region.

“Our team learned a lot from our pilot program, and this cohort has distinguished themselves not only because of their novel technologies, but also sound business practices,” said Christina Winn, executive director, Prince William County Department of Economic Development and Tourism. “From starting a small business program when I came on board in 2019 to celebrating with more than 200 business owners at our annual event, this is one of the benchmark programs that has established our entrepreneurial community!”

Apply today at pwcded.org/IGNITE. Applications close July 1.

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