Department of Economic Initiatives (DEI)

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our office is open 8:30AM-4:30PM M-F
703-324-5171 TTY 711
12015 Route 50, Suite 510
Fairfax, VA 22033
Rebecca Moudry

Fairfax Founders Fund

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Application for second cohort now open through January 31 (**updated**)

Fairfax Founders Fund Announces Inaugural Cohort of Grant Funding Winners - November 2023

The Fairfax Founders Fund (“FFF”) is a grant and technical assistance program that provides grants of up to $50,000 to early-stage Fairfax County-based startups that are on a high-growth trajectory. The goals of FFF are to:

  • Bolster economic development in Fairfax County by growing innovation-based businesses and jobs and preparing young companies for angel and venture capital investment, commercialization grants, and later-stage investment;
  • Promote the resources and advantages of Fairfax County by establishing a program that will connect startup businesses with area partnerships and developing competitive technology clusters in the County; and
  • Foster economic mobility by providing a new source of early-stage capital to Fairfax County businesses with high growth potential and ensuring that these funds are broadly accessible to entrepreneurs of all backgrounds.

There will be targeted marketing of FFF to underrepresented and diverse founders, such as women, people of color, veterans, persons with disabilities, and other underrepresented groups.




Program Information

To be considered for a grant from the Fund, applicants must be for-profit companies that meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be a legally-existing entity registered and in good standing with Virginia’s State Corporation Commission (“SCC”) to do business in the Commonwealth of Virginia. “In good standing” means the applicant must not be delinquent in any tax or debt payments or otherwise in material breach of any previously-existing agreements with Fairfax County or the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  • Have its principal place of business (“PPB”) Fairfax County or one of the Towns of Herndon, Vienna, or Clifton. The applicant’s PPB may be a home office, so long as the home office functions as the PPB.
  • Have a valid Business, Professional, and Occupational License (“BPOL”) issued by Fairfax County or one of the Towns of Herndon, Vienna, or Clifton, and be in good standing. “In good standing” means the applicant must not be delinquent in any tax or debt payments or otherwise in material breach of any previously-existing agreements with Fairfax County or the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  • Be or intend to become an innovative and/or disruptive product-focused technology enterprise.
  • Be able to articulate the potential commercial value of its product.
  • Have raised no more than $1,000,000 of startup funding.  Startup funding is defined here by investments from “friends and family”, angels, venture capital firms, and other private equity investment since company inception.
  • Have received no more than $250,000 gross revenue in the 12 months preceding the date of application.
  • Demonstrate a match of 50% of its requested FFF grant amount, to be expended during the grant period of performance. Matching funds may include in-kind contributions, sweat equity, commercial revenue, other grant funding and/or investor funds. 

Fairfax County is seeking to support and invest in the growth of its innovation and technology sector, including with traditionally underrepresented and diverse groups, such as women, people of color, veterans, persons with disabilities, and other underrepresented founders.


The review and selection process includes three components: 

Review Component 1:  The grant administrator will review applications for eligibility. 

Applicants interested in seeking FFF grant funding will initially submit details about their company, technology, and proposed project electronically through the online portal.Applicants may submit one application (companies that are affiliated through ownership, common management or leadership, and/or other control are considered under the same umbrella and may participate through one total submission). Companies that are affiliated with one another through majority ownership, common management, or common leadership, will be considered by the FFF as a single entity for purposes of awarding grants. The grant administrator will review applications submitted within the open application period on an ongoing basis. Applicants that are deemed ineligible will be notified by the Fairfax County Department of Economic Initiatives. The open application period for the first cohort of the Fairfax Founders Fund will begin at 9:00 AM on November 27 end on January 31st at 5:00 PM. 

Review Component 2:  The Fairfax County Department of Economic Initiatives (DEI) will evaluate eligible applications for completeness and demonstration of an achievable project proposal that aligns with program goals. 

Applications that are deemed eligible will be reviewed by DEI staff and judged based on the following criteria:

  • Completeness: Application is complete – all required questions are answered fully and demonstrate the applicant’s competence or expertise in the industry and the proposed FFF project. 
  • Market Intelligence: Application demonstrates the proposed FFF project addresses a stated problem and that customer discovery and market analysis have been conducted. 
  • Commercialization: Application demonstrates the applicant has identified target markets, a competitive pricing approach, and processes to bring to the product to market and to scale. 
  • Budget Milestones: Application demonstrates complete budget and tasks for the proposed FFF project. 

Applications that do not meet all of the above criteria will not advance to Review Component 3. These applicants will be provided with feedback and information about regional resources to assist their company. 

Applications that are considered to meet the above criteria will be forwarded to Review Component 3.  

Review Component 3:  DEI will engage with venture capital professionals, and/or technology / industry subject matter experts (“advisors”) to evaluate applications forwarded from Review Component 2 to make recommendations of funding awards. 

DEI will consult with subject matter experts from organizations including the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (“FCEDA”), venture capital professionals, and/or technology / industry advisors to review applications and advise on funding.

As part of Review Component 3, DEI may ask an applicant to do an interview or pitch meeting (in-person or virtual) with DEI and one or more of its advisors.

Review Component 3 will be based on the following factors: 

  • Market Need and Opportunity: Is the applicant customer-focused? Do they have a clear understanding of product-market fit and the overall market opportunity? How big is the market for applicant’s product? What is the value proposition for the target market (e.g., increased functionality, savings, enhanced efficiency)? Is there a plan to overcome market entry barriers and is there a path to commercialization? What testing and validation have been performed and/or planned?
  • Innovative Technology: Is the applicant’s product or service innovative? What are the technology-related risks? Is the company leveraging any meaningful intellectual property (“IP”)? 
  • Milestones: Does the proposed project have clear development milestones and a realistic timeline? 
  • Budget: Is the proposed budget reasonable to achieve the proposed project milestones? Is the required 50% match compliant, clear, and logical?
  • Company / Management: Are the founder(s) / management team committed to building a successful business? Do the founder(s) / management team have the necessary qualifications (skills, knowledge) to do so? Do the founder(s) / management team demonstrate the ability to pivot when necessary?
  • Overall Quality of Submission: Was the FFF application complete and prepared with care? 

Prior to the disbursement of any FFF funds to an awardee, the awardee will be required to sign a grant agreement. The grant agreement will include the Fund grant terms and conditions, a reporting schedule, and the applicant’s proposal with milestones and budget. Fairfax County (including DEI) and the FCEDA are subject to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Applicant and/or grantee information provided to the County is not confidential and may be subject to disclosure in accordance with applicable law, including the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. As part of the review components, DEI may also share information provided by the applicant and/or grantee with third-party consultants (paid and/or volunteer). Consequently, it is recommended that proprietary information not be provided as part of the application, in subsequent reports, or in communications.

Neither Fairfax County nor the FCEDA will take ownership of intellectual property that may result from the performance of the FFF award, and grantees will retain the title to equipment purchased with FFF funds. 

If an awardee moves its principal place of business from Fairfax County to another jurisdiction before 24 months following the grant award date, a pro-rata portion of grant funds must be repaid.

Complete FFF terms and conditions can be found within the grant agreement.

In an effort to measure the effectiveness of FFF, the following statistics will be tracked for each grantee over a period of 5 years following the completion of the grantee’s FFF supported project:

  • Commercial revenue
  • Full- and part-time employees
  • Follow-on funding: equity investment, grants, banks loans
  • Number of existing products and/or new products under development
  • Intellectual property created
  • Facilities added, enhanced, and/or expanded

FFF will also track:

  • Number of businesses with underrepresented founders that apply for Fund support, and that are selected for Fund support.
  • Number of grantees that engage with technical assistance services (e.g. ICAP, Virginia SBDC, etc.)

Marketing Information

FFF Social Media Graphics

Press Release

FFF GIF (will email on request)

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Not Yet a Fit?

Are you a founder who does not meet the requirements... yet? Here are some options for you to consider to get ready for FFF cohort #2 in the Fall of 2023



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