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January 1st heralded the opening of the application period for the 2015 Arch Grants competition. (Techli has covered Arch Grants extensively, but you can read more: 2012 Winners 2013 Winners 2014 Winners or even, Arch Grants: What to do with the money)

For those unfamiliar with Arch Grants, it is a competition for startups that is unique in the nation.  Recipients of an Arch Grant receive $50,000 for their startups, equity free.  The only requirement is that the startups base themselves in downtown St. Louis.

If the number of startups locating themselves in downtown St. Louis is any indication, Arch Grants is a genius competition- plenty of cities have realized startups are the way to attract people to their cities, but none have a program like Arch Grants.  Since 2012, 55 startups have called downtown St. Louis home that otherwise would not have been there and been awarded a total of $3.1 Million in non dilutive grants.

Startups and entrepreneurs from as far afield as New Zealand, Costa Rica, the U.K., Colombia and states around the country have all relocated to St. Louis.

“Arch Grants companies have produced dramatic growth in jobs, revenue and follow on capital raised,” said Ginger Imster, Executive Director of Arch Grants. “We are pleased to begin accepting applications from companies that we know will be additive to our entrepreneur network in St. Louis.”

In addition to the money, Arch Grants connects entrepreneurs to mentors, service providers and introductions to business people the entrepreneurs might need to meet.

Changes to the Competition for 2015

In previous years, Arch Grants awarded a set number of grants each year during the competition period- now the program has moved to twice yearly awarding of grants, to take place in June and November of each year. Applications will remain open year round, so if an entrepreneur misses the window to qualify to compete for the June grants, they can still make the November round.

Also new for 2015 is the Competition Committee. The Competition Committee will be the final judging committee that decides who the grants are awarded. All the members of the committee are known business leaders from a variety of fields and include:

Dan Broderick of BioSTL
Dedric Carter of Washington University in St. Louis
Helen Ciesielski of Ascension Health Ventures
David Dankmeyer of Matter Family Office
Pat Doherty of ThinkBig Partners and Saturday Morning Capital
Jennifer Ehlen of Prosper Women Entrepreneurs and Thompson Street Capital Partners
Jerry Katz of St. Louis University and Billiken Angel Network
Mark Lewis of Lockerdome
Kathryn Elliot Love of Bryan Cave
Tony Metzner of Advantage Capital Partners
Ryan Rakestraw of Cultivation Capital
Thad Simons of The Yield Lab
Heather Wood formerly of Cequel III

Mark Lewis on Joining AG Competition Committee
MarkLewis

Mark Lewis, Lockerdome and Arch Grants Competition Committee

“The opportunity to actively participate in the future of the Arch Grants program is incredibly compelling.  Innovations such as semi-annual and rolling grants are only the beginning as we further position Arch Grants as a truly transformational entity.

We believe Arch Grants to be a groundbreaking program that has the potential to drive the St. Louis economy well into the future.

Arch Grants is a transformational entity – for the region and for the economy.  Entrepreneurship is the foundation upon which St. Louis was built 250 years ago and will be that which forges the city’s future.  In a few short years, Arch Grants has enabled, encouraged and inspired entrepreneurs to build their businesses in St. Louis, while positioning the community as a burgeoning entrepreneurial hub.”

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