Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Alan Greenberger announced today that the Department of Commerce is now accepting submissions for the fourth round of Startup PHL Call for Ideas.  The grant program is open to all innovative, exciting proposals that support Philadelphia’s startup ecosystem, with a particular focus on ideas that address young people and the issue of poverty in the city. 


Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, September 11, 2015.  Full application details are available at  Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee made up of representatives from the City of Philadelphia, PIDC and members of the entrepreneurial community.


“Through the Startup PHL Call for Ideas program, we have provided funding to a whole range of initiatives across the city which are fostering entrepreneurship, creating new young entrepreneurs and putting Philadelphia on the map as a startup city,” said Mayor Nutter.  “Companies around the world are now looking at our city in a new light and, together with events like the Forbes Under 30 Summit and the Rise of the Rest tour, more attention is coming Philadelphia’s way.”


The Call for Ideas program provides small grants to organizations with ideas or initiatives that best meet the objectives of Startup PHL:

  • Enhance collaboration between organizations that support entrepreneurs;
  • Foster networks and create space for entrepreneurs to develop businesses and connect with mentors, advisors, talent and capital;
  • Stimulate business and job creation in the city of Philadelphia;
  • Deepen integration between Philadelphia’s higher education institutions, students and startup community; and
  • Create an environment that attracts new entrepreneurs and encourages graduates from Philadelphia’s higher education institutions to remain in the city.


The last round of Call for Ideas awards were made in May 2015. 

  • University City Science Center FirstHand Program ($25,000) – a youth STEAM initiative serving Philadelphia youth from under-resourced schools and the teachers, professionals and families from their communities. The Startup PHL funding assists in lab equipment acquisition for the FirstHand Lab, a dedicated lab space for students.


 “Support from Startup PHL has allowed us to not only build out the FirstHand Lab and the grant also enables us to fill a resource gap faced by a number of schools in Philadelphia, as we offer students access to real-world lab experiences that includes and welcomes them into our growing innovation community,” says Stephen S. Tang, Ph.D, MBA, President and CEO of the Science Center, “


  • Drexel University, Regional University Business Plan Competition ($23,500) Startup PHL funding will help establish a multi-university business plan competition run by a new consortium of university-based entrepreneurship programs and incubators.  Drexel University’s Chuck Sacco, organizer of this initiative, commented, “A number of us at university-based entrepreneurship programs wanted to find new ways to have entrepreneurially-minded college students work across the region and build their networks at other universities and colleges and within the community.  A regional business plan competition will be a great way for that to occur”.


“We are making progress on putting together the regional business plan competition and our plan is to hold the final competition in February with 3-4 lead-up events focused on networking, pitch education and pitch practice. Needless to say, none of this would have been possible without funding from StartupPHL. The funding has given our regional consortium of university entrepreneurship programs the ability to start building this valuable program and to ultimately provide university students with a great program that demonstrates the strength of entrepreneurship in the region.” – Chuck Sacco, Drexel University.


  • Coded by Kids Instructor Pipeline Project ($19,870) – Coded by Kids provides inner city children with free, engaging, challenging and creative tech education program. Startup PHL funding will establish an adult training program for instructors in the Coded by Kids workshops.


 “Through the Startup PHL funding we developed and launched web development training program for adults who would not have been able to afford a program of this type under normal circumstances. This gives us the ability to create pathways into tech careers for men and women who are currently underrepresented in tech and would normally find it difficult to gain access to opportunities in tech. By asking our adult students to return as volunteers with our kids programs we are also able to increase the number of volunteer instructors we have and the number of kids we are able to reach. The funding from Startup PHL made this program possible.” – Sylvester Mobley, founder, Coded by Kids.


  • TechGirlz Entrepreneur Bootcamp in a Box ($10,000) – TechGirlz hold workshops and an annual entrepreneurial summer camp serving middle-school girls. Startup PHL funding will expand the existing and successful TechGirlz Summer Entrepreneur Bootcamp materials into sharable, lesson plan formats so other groups can teach the program.  TechGirlz founder Tracey Welson-Rossman commented, “This Tech Entrepreneur Camp is unique in this country and we are extremely happy to be partnering with the City to have more girls understand how they can participate in the tech and startup economy. Innovation is gender blind.”


“TechGirlz has been able to put our Tech Entrepreneur Camp into a format that will allow other people – schools, companies, organizations, individuals – to teach more young girls that they can be part of the innovation economy. Between our workshop plans and video series, enabling these instructors, is key to having more girls be involved.  The Call for Ideas allowed TechGirlz to undertake this project. Without the support, we would not have been able to afford to hire the extra staff to create these materials.” – Tracey Welson-Rossman


Startup PHL is an initiative of the City of Philadelphia’s Commerce Department, PIDC, and First Round Capital to provide funding for early-stage companies and to support programs that develop the startup community in Philadelphia.  Through Startup PHL Funds and co-investments from First Round Capital eight Philadelphia startups have received more than $1 million in combined seed stage or angel investment since October 2013, and through the Call For Ideas Grants fourteen organizations have received almost $300,000 in funding to support entrepreneurship programming.  For more information about Startup PHL please visit

Posted in Mayor's Press Releases, Press Release
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