John Austin Groundwork Labs 2014

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With two-and-a-half years under its belt and 60 companies accelerated, Groundwork Labs is expanding its influence beyond the Triangle in multiple ways.

Two weeks ago, it announced a housing stipend for non-Triangle companies interested in joining the free, three-month-long, pre-accelerator program based in American Underground. And today, Groundwork becomes one of three accelerators around the world to house a Startup Next program for aspiring entrepreneurs.

ExitEvent partner WRAL TechWire reported the news locally, providing details of the global program created by Startup Weekend-founder UP Global two years ago. Its aim is to validate business plans, test products with potential customers and prepare entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas, all in a five-week period with once-a-week sessions.

UP Global explained the new partnerships on its blog yesterday. Groundwork and the accelerators in Vancouver and Sofia, Bulgaria "are targeted at the same audience, deliver essentially the same results, share the same organizer/director, and use some of the same mentors" as Startup Next, according to the post.

Truth be told, Groundwork executive director John Austin taught the inaugural Next program in the Triangle in 2013, and had planned to do the same in 2014. (One of its participants shared her career-altering experience with ExitEvent in a Q&A earlier this year). Startup Next typically works like Startup Weekend - a local team of organizers (with support from UP) selects a venue each session, handles registration, finds mentors and takes entrepreneurs through the curriculum. Now, Groundwork will handle those details. Next will be offered as programming to both Groundwork companies and others in the community.

Applications open September 5th for a five-week program that kicks off October 6th. Apply here.