A home for innovation.

Venture Winston Grants is a public-private partnership program within Agile City Winston-Salem aimed at bringing future-focused disrupters to Winston-Salem.

Our team utilizes a wealth of experience in order to support, mentor, and catalyze early-stage startups. Every year, we will select a cohort and provide them with the opportunities and resources needed to build a MVP and watch them succeed.

The Competition

Our inaugural cohort will consist of 10-20 future-focused, early-stage startups in the Nutrition & Agriculture Technology, Aviation & Aerospace, and Health & Well-Being fields. Venture Winston Grants will provide startups with a $50K grant, acceleration and incubation services as well as investor connections.

Applications are open until June 30, 2021. After the application process, grant recipients will be announced in November 2021 for a January 31, 2022 start date.

Meet Our Team

Karen Barnes

Co-founder, Venture Winston Grants

Kasem Rodriguez Mohsen

Manager, Venture Winston Grants

Mary Stuart Gray

Marketing Communications Manager, Venture Winston Grants

Susan Morris

Manager of Cohorticulture

Why Winston?

number one

Ranked best state business climate (link)

number three

Ranked most affordable downtown (link)

number four

Ranked best cities to start a small business (link)

A quick drive to renowned sandy beaches or stunning mountain views

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Home to 6 higher education institutions

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A ROBUST, approachable ENTREPRENEURIAL ecosystem

Winston-Salem, NC is the City of Arts and Innovation. Recently named one of the South’s ten best “cities on the rise” by Southern Living magazine, Winston-Salem is a place where creativity shines and entrepreneurial spirits are rewarded.

With an affordable cost of living and friendly business climate, Winston-Salem is the perfect place for early-stage businesses to extend their runway and reduce expenses while gaining access to a rich pipeline of talent through one of our six local universities (including two HBCUs).

We believe in the power of community, and Winston’s small business and startup network ensures that you will have a whole community dedicated to your success. It’s an exciting time to be in this growing city!


  • How does the application process work?

    The VWG application window is open from May 1, 2021 – June 30, 2021. Applicants must complete their application in full and submit it by the deadline. All applications will be submitted through the VWG F6S platform. Click here to apply.

    Once the application window closes, our team of startup and industry experts will complete a detailed review process to determine a list of finalists. We expect to announce our finalist group on or around September 1, 2021.

  • Who is eligible for a Venture Winston Grant?

    Companies that are building the future of healthcare, agriculture, food, aviation and unmanned flight (drones) are eligible to apply. If your company is at a stage where a $50,000 non-dilutive grant is meaningful to your business, we urge you to apply to the program.

    Companies must be incorporated in the United States to be eligible. All winners must agree to relocate 51% of their team, including at least one cofounder, to Winston-Salem, NC for a 1-year residency program.

  • What happens if I’m named a Finalist?

    Finalists will be informed of their status in late August 2021 and will receive an invitation to our Welcome Night and Pitch Day events to be scheduled in early October 2021 (dates and venue to be decided). Pitch Day will be an in-person event located in Winston-Salem, NC.

    At this event, finalists will pitch live to a panel of industry experts and investors and get the opportunity to meet and greet local leaders, economic development groups and relocation experts. This event will also be live streamed through our network of global innovation partners.

  • When will you select the winners?

    After Pitch Day, our Selection Committees will meet to select the grant winners. Winners will be notified in mid-to-late October 2021 and will sign contracts and agreements to accept the award.

    We expect to publicly announce winners November 2021.

  • Does my company have to relocate to Winston-Salem, NC?

    All recipients of a Venture Winston Grant must relocate 51% of their team, including one founder, to Winston-Salem, NC for a 1-year residency program by January 31, 2022.

    During this year-long program, entrepreneurs will receive personal mentoring from experts from our partners within their respective industry to guide them throughout the program, as well as access to accelerators, incubators, coworking spaces, and follow-on investment opportunities.

  • What happens after the 1-year residency?

    The support doesn’t end at the end of the program! Grant winners will continue to have access to mentorship, networking and investment opportunities through Winston-Salem’s ecosystem and our marketing channels that have national reach.

    We’ll also help you leverage your connections and contacts within our exclusive industry partner network to supercharge business development and near-term revenue generation opportunities. You will continue to have VIP access to events and the continued support of our partners at Winston Starts, Flywheel and other partners.