I swear I didn’t know that NC IDEA announced semi-finalists for its twice-annual $50K grant cycle. However, when I asked Andrea Cook about it she assured me that they did do this, I just wasn’t paying attention. That can happen.

The NC IDEA grant program — $50K, mentoring and connections to six deserving startups in North Carolina with no take — is probably the best program going on here if not nationwide. But the bigger story is how the program is starting to gel with some of the other entrepreneurial programs in the area to produce a perfect storm of potential.

Of the last set of five winners from the Spring cycle, two were from Groundwork Labs, one was from Packard Place, and one was graduating Triangle Startup Factory’s first class the same day as the announcement. Oh, also, three of the five were already members of ExitEvent.

So I asked Andrea to hook me up with the data from this round of 23 semi-finalists. Here’s what she told me:

Five from Groundwork Labs
Able Device (alum)
iMedia Revenue
Pluribus Systems
Rheti (alum)

Four from TSF
Able Device (current class)
Arcametrics (previous class)
PopUp (current class)
RxAnalytics (previous class)

One from InCube

One from Blackstone

Try and Try Again
But it’s not just previous exposure to an incubator that makes the cut, after all that’s only 10 out of 23, not even 50%. Of course, it sure helps, as it absolutely should.

But 10 of the semi-finalists are previous applicants for the grant, and four of them are previous finalists. It’s like NC IDEA All-Stars.

You also don’t have to be in the Triangle. Yes, that appears to help, but I’m chalking that more up to the size of the applicant pool here compared to other locations. Even so:

Two Charlotte Companies

Two Greenville Companies
TEO Systems

And not to slight anyone, because these are all deserving companies regardless of where they came from, and some would say those that haven’t been incubated or accelerated are even more deserving… well, different deserving:

3DFS Power Solutions—Pittsboro, NC
ActaTex—Chapel Hill, NC
Lucerno Dynamics—Raleigh, NC
Novametics—Raleigh, NC
Scimarket Technologies—Durham, NC
Starfish—Durham, NC
Tilt, Inc.—Raleigh, NC

But I believe the connections are awesome. All these organizations working together to make the Triangle entrepreneurial community stronger and, here’s the important part, ultimately more successful. Very good sign.