When it comes to funding your startup business, you have a lot of options. You can go the bank loan route, you can court wealthy investors, throw your hat into the ring of a corporate grants competition, or you can apply for federal government grants for startup businesses. While there are benefits to each funding option, there are also drawbacks. Bank loans need to be paid back (with interest), investors will take equity, and government grants like the STTR and SBIR programs are highly competitive.
With that said, there is another funding option and that is state grants for startup businesses.
Like federal grants, state grants are essentially “free money” that can be used to grow your business. The difference is that funding at the state level is often less competitive than federal programs. This means that state grants for startup businesses can be an excellent opportunity to score some vital funding.
There is one problem with state grants for startup business though and that is that they can be frustratingly hard to find. This is largely because funding is unpredictable and a grant that is available one year, may be gone the next.
To help you narrow down your search, we’ve trawled the Internet to find more than 140 state grants for startup businesses. These grants are even broken down by state so you can find the right funding from the Pacific North West all the way to the deep South.
- Arizona STEP Grant – Offers money to Arizona small businesses that are exporting products or expanding into new markets.
- Arizona Innovation Challenge – Arizona’s leading technology commercialization competition.
- California Sustainable Energy Entrepreneur Development Initiative (CalSEED) – Provides grants to entrepreneurs working to bring early-stage clean energy concepts to market.
- Proof of Concept Grant – This grant uses funding to identify and pull technologies from research institutions where they were discovered and connect them to the private sector where they can be developed into products for commercialization.
- Early-Stage Capital and Retention Grant – This grant uses funding to support companies using technologies developed in proof of concept grants and other early stage start-ups that have created viable products that meet a market need and that can be created or manufactured in Colorado and exported globally.
- Collaborative Infrastructure Funding – The program provides support to projects that develop the business infrastructure necessary to grow Colorado’s Advanced Industries.
- Export Accelerator Program – Supports small and medium-sized business through funds to offset international business development and marketing costs.
- Growth Company Grant – Builds on the success of Connecticut’s early-stage companies and offers support for strategic projects and customer acquisition.
- Technology Talent Bridge (TTB) Internship Program – A grant opportunity for Connecticut small businesses to provide funding for the hire of student interns.
- Small Business Express Program – Through state programs, small businesses can access direct funding, including matching grant funds, from the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and Connecticut Innovations (CI).
- Manufacturing Innovation Fund Voucher Program -Provides Connecticut companies with access to the equipment and expertise they need to become more efficient, productive, and profitable.
- We Aspire: Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Builder Grant – Funding to further develop and enhance the resource mix available to We Aspire clients.
- Workforce Training Grant – Help fund customized training for eligible Delaware entities.
- Delaware Technical Innovation Program – Offers funding transition grants to companies that have received a Phase I (SBIR/STTR) federal award and have submitted a Phase II application through which lead to innovative new products, jobs, and revenue to Delaware.
- Florida High Tech Corridor Council – Matching grant funds for collaborative research projects between local industry partners and USF researchers, including SBIR/STTR funded projects.
- Trade Grants Program through Enterprise Florida -Five different grants available to help Florida companies grow their export sales through participation in overseas international trade shows. The grants offset trade show booth costs and enable them to exhibit in trade shows that Enterprise Florida participates in, as well as other approved trade shows and exhibitions.
- Hawaii Small Business Innovation Research Program – Provides matching grants to help companies further the development of new products to solve critical issues.
- Manufacturing Assistance Program Grant (MAP) – Provides Hawaii manufacturers assistance in controlling costs making sure employees are well trained and securing the latest technology to grow their business.
- Idaho State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) Grant – Funding for qualifying Idaho companies for international marketing campaigns to export their products.
- REM Program – Awards matching grants to Illinois organizations and businesses to accomplish recycling market expansion and waste reduction goals, while demonstrating public economic benefits.
- Skills Enhancement Fund (SEF) – Provides assistance to businesses to support training and upgrading the skills of employees.
- Elevate Ventures Grants – Various grants for Indiana companies in the Ideation Stage—still formulating their product or idea.
- Iowa Energy Center Grant Program – The grant program provides grants to eligible applicants for projects that provide a benefit to Iowa ratepayers (defined as a customer who pays for an electric or natural gas utility service in the state of Iowa). Projects must also aid in the implementation of one of the key focus areas of the Iowa Energy Plan.
- SBIR and STTR Matching Program – Kentucky has an aggressive program that matches those federal funds, basically doubling the available capital for a company that innovates in Kentucky.
- Kentucky Export Initiative/State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) – Funding for export-ready US companies seeking to export goods or services of US origin or have at least 51% US content.
- New Energy Venture Fund (KNEV) – Supports the development and commercialization of alternative fuel and renewable energy products, processes, and services across the state.
- Maine Technology Institute (MTI) Investment Process – MTI offers grants, loans, equity investments, and services to businesses, organizations, and individuals that work within one or more of the seven targeted technology sectors: Biotechnology, Composites & Advanced Materials, Environmental Technologies, Forest Products & Agriculture, Information Technology, Marine Technology & Aquaculture, and Precision Manufacturing.
- Libra Foundation’s Future Fund – Aims to capitalize upon the energy and creativity that Maine’s young people embody and to combat youth out-migration by supporting initiatives that increase the number of Maine-based professional opportunities.
- Maine Quality Centers Workforce Training Grants – Customized workforce training grants for Maine employers seeking to locate or expand their operations in Maine or who are interested in providing training to their incumbent workers.
- Gorham Savings Bank’s Launchpad – Funding to support the growth of Maine businesses and resources needed for them to reach the next level.
- Top Gun – Designed for the entrepreneur with a desire to grow his/her business and achieve long-term success through the use of the right tools, resources, and related mentorship.
- University of Maryland’s Maryland Industrial Partnership – Promotes the development and commercialization of products and processes through industry/university research partnerships. MIPS provides matching funds to help Maryland companies pay for the university research.
- Maryland Technology Internship Program (MTIP) – Administered by University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and funded by the State of Maryland, the program offers financial assistance to technology-based businesses, as well as state and local agencies, to hire more interns.
- Partnership for Workforce Quality (PWQ) – Provides matching training grants and support services targeted to improve the competitive position of small and mid-sized manufacturing and technology companies.
- Advantage Maryland (MEDAAF) – Funding to support economic development initiatives in priority funding areas of the state.
- ExportMD Program – Helps to offset some of the costs of marketing internationally for Maryland’s small and mid-sized companies.
- Economic Development Opportunities Fund (Sunny Day) – Supports extraordinary economic development opportunities that create and retain employment as well as create significant capital investments.
- Milestone Achievement Program (MAP) – Designed to address the needs of early-stage life sciences companies by providing grant funding to execute critical, value-creating technical milestones.
- Massachusetts Next Generation Initiative (MassNextGen) – The MassNextGen is a five-year commitment to ensure greater gender parity in the next generation of life science entrepreneurs.
- Massachusetts Transition and Growth Program (MassTAG) – The MassTAG program will provide grant funding to encourage companies to establish operations in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the world’s leading ecosystem for life sciences innovation and growth.
- MassTech Intern Partnership (MTIP) Program – Provides stipends to digital technology companies that are starting and scaling-up across Massachusetts to directly support internships for Massachusetts college and graduate students.
- MassVentures START Program – The SBIR Targeted Technologies (START) program helps growing Massachusetts-based companies commercialize technologies developed under SBIR and STTR contracts.
- Workforce Training Fund Express Program – Businesses with 100 or fewer employees that contribute to the Workforce Training Fund are eligible to apply for an Express Grant.
- Workforce Training Fund General Program – Employers, employer organizations, labor organizations, and training providers are encouraged to apply for funds to train current and newly hired workers.
- Michigan Business Development Program (MBDP) – Funding to businesses for highly competitive projects in Michigan that create jobs and/or provide investment.
- MATch Energy Grant – Provides matching funds to eligible Michigan small businesses and university researchers applying for advanced energy- and transportation-related federal funding.
- PlanetM Startup Grants – Separated into two different categories, these grants encourage mobility startups to test their technologies in Michigan in partnership with communities or at Michigan’s state-of-the-art testing facilities.
- Emerging Technologies Fund (ETF) – Designed to expand funding opportunities for Michigan technology-based companies in the federal innovation research and development arena by providing match dollars to eligible SBIR or STTR proposals.
- Accelerate Michigan – Supports entrepreneurs who are taking risks and driving innovation in high-tech industries.
- NEIdeas – Celebrates existing business in the cities of Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park–rewarding those with the best ideas for growth.
- The Michigan Corporate Relations Network (MCRN) Small Company Innovation Program (SCIP)
- Innovation Voucher Award Program – Funding to assist small businesses in purchasing technical assistance and services necessary to advance research, development or commercialization of new or innovative products and services.
- Minnesota Job Creation Fund – Financial incentives to new and expanding businesses that meet certain job creation and capital investment targets.
- DEED Training Grant Programs – Funding to offset training-related expenses incurred by business, industry, nonprofit organizations and educational institutions to meet current and future workforce needs.
- Missouri TechLaunch – Designed to help high-tech entrepreneurs overcome the principal financing challenges of launching new startups that leverage discovers and talent at Missouri’s world-class public and private universities and other research organizations.
- Seed Capital Co-Investment Program – MTC’s Seed Capital Co-Investment Program (SeedCap) is designed to accelerate private investment in Missouri-based startup companies and to increase the overall investment impact of that third-party investment.
- Arch Grants – Funding to support entrepreneurs who locate their early-stage businesses in St. Louis.
- The Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund Program (BSTF) Job Creation Fund – Funding to local and tribal governments in the form of grants or loans to assist basic sector businesses in creating good paying jobs for Montana residents.
- Montana SBIR/STTR Matching Funds Program – Assists technology-based Montana companies by providing additional funding that can be used for technology development or other uses during the time that the company is working on a SBIR or STTR project with a federal agency.
- Montana Board of Research and Commercialization Technology (MBRCT) – Provides a predictable and stable source of funding for research and commercialization projects in Montana. MBRCT encourages economic development through investment in research projects that have a clear path to commercialization.
- Indian Equity Fund (IEF) Small Business Grant – Assists startup or expanding Native American businesses in Montana.
- Montana STEP Grant – Funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration, helps new and experienced exporters with expanding into new international markets.
- Nebraska Academic Research and Development Grant – Offers Nebraska businesses a matching competitive grant for research and development activities done in conjunction with a Nebraska college or university.
- Nebraska Innovation Fund Prototype Grants – A matching grant that provides financial assistance for product development to businesses operating in Nebraska.
- Nebraska Small Business Innovation Research / Small Business Tech Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Grant Program – A matching grant that provides financial assistance to Nebraska businesses that have received a Federal SBIR or STTR grant.
- Customized Job Training (CJT) Grant Program – Provides assistance for employee training to businesses that create or retain quality jobs in Nebraska.
- Intern Nebraska Grant Program (InternNE) – Financial assistance for businesses that create new internships in Nebraska.
- Nebraska State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) – Helps increase the number of small businesses that export, and increases export value for those already doing so.
- Silver State Works initiative – The Silver State Works initiative was designed to create an opportunity for employers to help strengthen Nevada’s economy while receiving incentives to hire pre-screened qualified workers to staff their businesses.
- Nevada’s State Trade Expansion Program Grant (STEP) – The purpose of the grant is to assist Nevada Eligible Small Business Concerns (ESBCs) to enter or expand into export markets.
- Annual Flatley Challenge Startup Competition – The Flatley Challenge is intended to stimulate the development and growth of early-stage companies by providing them both free incubation space plus the opportunity to interact with world-class companies already resident at Gateway Hills.
- The Manchester Young Professionals Network (MYPN) New Hampshire Startup Challenge – A business plan competition that connects entrepreneurs and social innovators with seed capital and key services to help them on their path toward the creation of value, sustainable growth and sustainability.
- New Hampshire Innovation Research Center – Funding to foster innovation within New Hampshire by helping small businesses develop new products and processes, increasing their competitiveness and ultimately the number of quality jobs in the state.
- The New Hampshire Job Training Fund – Provides a 50/50 cash match grant for customized training of a company’s employees.
- Customized Training Grants – The Competitive Customized Training Grants aim to upgrade the skills of workers and enhance your ability to remain viable in New Jersey.
- The Garden State Growth Zone (GSGZ) Business Improvement Incentive (BII) – Part of a three-year pilot program designed to enhance the vibrancy of commercial corridors through business attraction, retention, and building improvements in the five GSGZs: Atlantic City, Camden, Passaic, Paterson, and Trenton.
- New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) NJ Ignite Program – A New Jersey incubator and collaborative workspace rent initiative designed to foster the development of young companies in New Jersey.
- Skills Partnership Program – The Skills Partnership training grants offer employee training customized to meet your needs.
- New Mexico Innovation Vouchers – Competitive grants designed to enable early-stage science and technology companies to overcome business development barriers.
- New Mexico Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Matching Grant – Provides matching funds to New Mexican companies that have been granted federal SBIR awards. The purpose of these funds is to assist businesses in achieving development and commercialization goals.
- Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP) – Funds classroom and on-the-job training for newly-created jobs in expanding or relocating businesses for up to 6 months.
- The Venture Acceleration Fund (VAF)* – The VAF fund seeks to improve the economy of Northern New Mexico by providing a unique source of funding to companies who are on track to add jobs, grow revenues, or attract follow-on investment. *Note that companies selected for VAF do not give up any equity by accepting the funding. Repayment is made in the form of providing mutually agreed upon support to northern New Mexico’s startup community.
- Native American Venture Acceleration Fund Awards (NAVAF) – The Fund was created to boost employment and diversify the economy in Northern New Mexico, and will make awards to tribally owned companies for critical technical services that lead to leveraged revenue, job creation and diversification.
- Empire State Economic Development Fund (EDF) – Financial assistance for projects that promote New York State’s economic health by facilitating job creation and/or retention, or increased business activity in the state.
- Economic Development Purposes Grants – Funding is for economic development initiatives and projects that create or retain jobs, generate increased economic activity and improve the economic and social viability and vitality of local communities.
- Global NY Fund Grant Fund Program – Global NY Fund provides grants and loans to help New York State’s small and medium-sized businesses go global and create new jobs.
- Regional Council Capital Fund Program (ESD Grants–REDC) – Capital grant funding is available for capital-based economic development projects intended to create or retain jobs; prevent, reduce or eliminate unemployment and underemployment; and/or increase business or economic activity in a community or Region.
- One North Carolina Small Business Program – Matching funds for North Carolina businesses who have received a federal Phase I SBIR Program or STTR award.
- North Carolina Biotechnology Center – NCBiotech offers several funding programs designed to fill gaps in technology development and company growth.
- NC Idea Micro – Small amounts of funding to entrepreneurs who are testing a big, new business idea.
- NC Idea Investment Crowdfunding Grant – Funding for companies ready to expand their businesses via investment crowdfunding on Localstake NC.
- Renewable Energy Program – Promote the growth of North Dakota’s renewable energy industries through research, development, marketing, and education.
- Operation Intern – Operation Intern is designed to expand the number of internship, work experience and apprenticeship positions with North Dakota employers in selected targeted industries: energy, advanced manufacturing, value-added agriculture, tourism, and technology-based businesses.
- North Dakota (ND) Innovate – Through expert guidance from business coaches, certified entrepreneurial centers and extensive leadership courses, Innovate ND provides the entrepreneurial community of North Dakota the resources needed to help turn an innovative idea into a profitable business.
- JobsOhio Economic Development Grant – The program requires the creation of jobs within a specified period of time and may consider the amount of proceeds per job created. JobsOhio may consider providing assistance for eligible projects that improve operational efficiencies or production expansion, along with the retention of jobs.
- Ohio International Market Access Grant for Exporters (IMAGE) – Designed to offset Ohio small business’ costs associated with international marketing initiatives, including trade shows and missions, marketing materials and website translation, and export education programs.
- JobsOhio Workforce Grant – The program requires job creation and training of employees within a specified period of time and may consider the amount of proceeds per job created and employees trained.
- Ohio Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program – Aims to fill a gap in current workforce development programs by providing needed training dollars to Ohio’s incumbent workforce through a unique public-private partnership.
- Quality Jobs Incentive Program – The program promotes job growth and helps improve your company’s bottom line by injecting cash back into your business as you expand and create new jobs in Oklahoma.
- Small Employer Quality Jobs Program – This program provides quarterly incentive payments to a qualifying small employer (500 employees or less).
- 21st Century Quality Jobs Program – The program is designed to attract growth industries and sectors to Oklahoma in the 21st century through a policy of rewarding businesses with a highly skilled, knowledge-based workforce.
- Export Promotion Program – Funding to help companies participate in international trade shows and trade missions to help them enter into new international markets or expand their visibility in existing markets.
- Business Oregon’s SBIR/STTR Matching Grants – Business Oregon’s matching grants provide funds to help fill gaps in what the federal grant will cover and assist businesses build on projects and advance new technologies.
- Oregon Individual Development Account Initiative (IDAs) – IDAs are matching grants offered to entrepreneurs below a qualifying income threshold. Individuals enrolled in the program must save a specified amount within a certain time frame, then receive a multiple of that amount as a grant to be used for approved business expenses.
- Alternative and Clean Energy Program (ACE) – Provides financial assistance in the form of grant and loan funds that will be used by eligible applicants for the utilization, development, and construction of alternative and clean energy projects in the state.
- Ben Franklin Technology Partners Challenge Grant – Funding for access to capital, business expertise, technology commercialization services to advance the development of new technologies and for the generation, conservation, and transportation of alternative and clean energy.
- Global Access Program (GAP) – Designed to enhance the capability of small to mid-sized Pennsylvania companies to increase export sales.
- Pennsylvania First (PA First) – A comprehensive funding tool to facilitate increased investment and job creation within the commonwealth. Competitive projects must offer substantial economic impact, either for the Commonwealth as a whole or for the locality or region in which a business will locate or expand; private match required; job creation/preservation required.
- Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP) – Helps Pennsylvania companies improve their competitiveness, by providing a limited amount of free technical assistance to resolve specific technical questions or needs, while it facilitates connections to other relevant information, resources and/or programs.
- Renewable Energy Program (REP) – Financial assistance in the form of grant and loan funds to promote the use of alternative energy (geothermal technologies and wind energy projects) in Pennsylvania.
- Solar Energy Program (SEP) – Provides financial assistance in the form of grant and loan funds to promote the generation and use of solar energy and the manufacture or assembly of solar equipment in Pennsylvania.
- WEDnetPA – Provides qualified employers training funds for new and existing employees. Funding can be used for a wide range of incumbent worker training, categorized as either Essential Skills Training or Advanced Technology Training.
- Innovation Voucher Program – Funding to help Rhode Island businesses unlock R&D capacity.
- Industry Cluster Grants – Industry Cluster Grants encourage companies to work together to solve problems, exchange ideas, and develop talent.
- The Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council’s (STAC) Innovate RI Small Business Fund – Provides funding to assist local entrepreneurs and high-growth start-ups.
- State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) – A national export initiative which makes matching‐fund awards to states to assist small businesses in entering and expanding into international markets.
- MassChallenge Rhode Island – Connects entrepreneurs to a powerful community of resources and support in Rhode Island and regional opportunities in Boston, in addition to our global network of leading corporate partners, policymakers, and innovation leaders.
- Export Incentives Program – Helps small and medium-sized businesses enter new markets and/or increase their exporting activities.
- SBIR/STTR Grant Matching – Matching funds to client companies that have been granted SBIR or STTR Phase I Awards.
- Project Development Fund (PDF) – South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) funding for qualified companies in the SC Launch program that are not affiliated with an academic institution.
- Demonstration Grant – South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) funding for a small business and/or academic partner developing a new product, distribution channel, customer or research.
- Academic Startup Assistance Program (ASAP) – South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) funding for for-profit companies sponsored by an academic institution.
- Acceleration Grant – South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) funding to progress a company towards commercialization and better position the company for an SC Launch, Inc. investment.
- Relocation Assistance Grant – South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) funding to offset costs associated with moving a company to South Carolina.
- Workforce Development Program – Funding to help train new and existing employees that require additional skills as the result of company growth.
- Dakota Seeds – An innovative internship program that connects students with employers as a way to help fill temporary workforce needs and establish a pipeline for future permanent employment.
- Proof of Concept Program – Funding to conduct research that demonstrates the technical and economic feasibility of an innovation before it is commercialized.
- FastTrack Job Training Assistance Program – The FastTrack grant program is designed to help offset costs companies incur in job training, infrastructure development, and a variety of other expenses associated with expansion and relocation activity.
- SBIR/STTR Matching Fund Grants Program – Funding to advance commercialization efforts via a matching of funding awarded to Tennessee based companies through successful SBIR and STTR applications.
- Technology Commercialization and Innovation Program (TCIP) -Competitive grants for small businesses and university teams to accelerate the commercialization of their innovative technologies.
- The Vermont Employment Growth Incentive (VEGI) – A performance-based cash incentive (not a tax credit) paid to approved companies for a prospective job and payroll creation in any region of the state and in almost any sector.
- Vermont Training Program (VTP) – A flexible, nimble, and strategic workforce development program to enhance the skills of the Vermont workforce and increase the productivity of Vermont employers.
- State Trade Expansion Program Grant (STEP) – Awarded by the SBA to support Vermont businesses to engage internationally through trade missions, trade shows, and export education.
- Virginia Small Business Jobs Grant Fund Program – Designed to give qualified small businesses grants to help offset some of the costs of hiring new employees.
- State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) – Funding for qualified companies new to exporting or expanding into new export markets.
- West Virginia First STEP-Next STEP – The West Virginia First STEP-Next STEP provides funding to West Virginia small businesses looking to enter (first step) or expand (next step) in the global marketplace.
- Wisconsin Fast Forward Grants – The Wisconsin Fast Forward worker training grant program is designed to help address the crucial need for skilled workers by making funds available for demand-driven workforce training.
- ExporTech Program – The goal of the ExporTech Program is to support the export capabilities of businesses in the state of Wisconsin.
- Workforce Training Grant Program – The program aids businesses in attracting, developing and retaining talent as a part of a business development project. The program provides grant funds to businesses to upgrade or improve the job-related skills of a business’s existing and new employees.
- SBIR Advance Matching Grant – Provides state match funding, training, and other resources to Wisconsin businesses to advance the commercialization of SBIR/STTR-funded technology and expedite economic and job creation impact in Wisconsin.
- Entrepreneurial Micro-Grant (EMG) Program – Support business planning and strategy for entrepreneurs and small business owners in the state of Wisconsin.
- Global Business Development (GBD) Program – The goal of the Global Business Development (GBD) Program is to support the export capabilities of businesses in the state of Wisconsin.
- Kickstart Program – Funding for Wyoming startups with high-growth potential and fewer than 50 employees.
- SBIR Phase I and Phase II Matching Program – Matching funds for Wyoming companies who receive federal funds through the SBIR or STTR programs.
- Trade Show and Market Expansion Grant – Helps defray costs for private Wyoming for-profit businesses participating in market expansion activities, such as trade shows and trade missions with the intention of expanding into regional, national or international markets.
- Wyoming Workforce Development Training Fund – Funding to help growing Wyoming businesses by deferring much of the training costs during the expansion phase.
*no state grant funding for startups or small businesses available for Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, or Texas at the time of writing.