Accelerate is a pitch competition which gives individuals across Northeast Ohio the chance to win seed money to help launch their idea to make the region a better place.
How it works
Applicants are selected to pitch in one of six categories before event attendees and a panel of judges drawn from community leaders. The judges select one finalist in each category. The six finalists take the main stage to pitch their ideas to the full audience, which votes on the winner. The winner receives $5,000 and the remaining five finalists each receive $2,000 to help bring their ideas to life.
- Event Details
- Application Process
- Pitch Categories
- SVP's bigBANG!
- Past Presenters' Row
- Dare2Believe Pop-Up Shops
Thursday, February 27, 2020
Global Center for Health Innovation
(1 St Clair Ave NE, Cleveland, OH 44114)
4:00 p.m. Doors open
4:30 p.m. Technovation pitch competition
5:30 p.m. Category pitch competitions
6:30 p.m. Reception
7:00 p.m. Finalist presentations & awards
Click on the tabs above to learn more about the event.
Anyone with an idea to improve the Greater Cleveland community can apply. Proposed ideas cannot be affiliated with an established organization or business.
Application & Selection
Applicants submit proposals to pitch their idea at the event via an online form, through which you’ll address each of the following areas in 250 words or less.
- A description of the initiative.
- The community issue it addresses.
- How it will benefit the community.
- Why you are passionate about the issue.
- How you will know if the initiative is successful.
- How the prize money would help you achieve your goals.
An independent panel of reviewers selects 30 proposals (five from each category) to be presented at the event based on:
- Potential for community impact and advancing NE Ohio.
- How unique, creative and innovative the initiative is.
- A realistic implementation plan that would be aided by the prize money.
Those selected have up to five minutes to pitch at the event.
Applications for Accelerate 2020 are now closed.
Authentic Cleveland Experiences
In partnership with Destination Cleveland
Initiatives that provide residents and visitors with immersive and emotionally impressive experiences that evoke the essence of Cleveland.
In partnership with Oswald Companies and Westfield
Initiatives that make a meaningful change in people’s lives and neighborhoods.
Economic & Workforce Development
In partnership with Oatey Co. and The Lubrizol Corporation
Initiatives that stimulate economic growth, promote economic self-sufficiency, encourage neighborhood development or address poverty.
Educating for Tomorrow
In partnership with Nordson Corporation
Initiatives that advance pre-kindergarten through college education, including literacy, numeracy, access, readiness, and success.
Health & Wellness
In partnership with Thompson Hine LLP
Initiatives that promote the physical and behavioral well-being of individuals and their communities.
Quality of Life
In partnership with Cuyahoga Community College Metropolitan Campus and MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network
Initiatives that create positive life experiences through arts, culture, and social services.
The Cleveland Foundation is awarding $3,500 to the top innovative technology idea at Accelerate. Be sure to check that box on the pitch application to take part in the Technovation Competition, too.
All pitches that opt in to the Technovation competition will be reviewed by a selection committee assembled by the Cleveland Foundation and five presenters will be selected. The same three selection criteria will be used for both Technovation and the Accelerate category competition (see Application Process).
Since the selection committees for Technovation and Accelerate are separate, the five presenters selected for Technovation may or may not be selected to present in their identified Accelerate category.
Presented in partnership with the Cleveland Foundation.
Social Venture Partners’ (SVP) bigBANG! Fast Pitch competition will take place at Accelerate 2020. bigBANG! is a free two-month training and mentoring program for innovative nonprofits effecting social change in Cleveland that culminates in the Fast Pitch competition.
Nonprofit leaders are selected to participate based on their innovative approaches to creating social change and their potential for significant positive community impact. They receive training and mentoring over the course of two months from volunteer business professionals (SVP Partners and friends of SVP) on how to succinctly and powerfully “tell their story.”
Catch up with past Accelerate participants and hear how their ideas are coming to life and creating positive change.
Presented in partnership with the Jackson Lewis P.C.
In 2018, Tory Coats won Accelerate with his pitch for Dare2Believe Pop-Up Shops – a way to teach high school students business skills by doing business. His young entrepreneurs showcased and sold their wares at Accelerate 2019 and they will once again be at Accelerate 2020.
Presented in partnership with the Burton D. Morgan Foundation.
PAST PRESENTERS PITCHES & PROGRESS
- Check out the Accelerate 2019 presenters and their ideas. >
- See all six 2019 finalists’ pitches. >
- Read about past presenters’ progress. >
ACCELERATE 2020 PARTNERS
Cuyahoga Community College Metropolitan Campus, Destination Cleveland, The Lubrizol Corporation, MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network, Nordson Corporation, Oatey Co., Oswald Companies, Thompson Hine LLP, and Westfield
Teen Enterprise Pop-Up Shop partner
Burton D. Morgan Foundation
Technovation competition host
Past Presenters’ Row
Jackson Lewis P.C.
ACCELERATE 2020 HOST COMMITTEE
Interested in supporting great ideas in Cleveland? Become an Accelerate Host >