24th Vogt Invention and Innovation Awards Application Opens

Applications for the Community Foundation of Louisville’s 24th Vogt Invention and Innovation Awards open April 26, providing early-stage businesses with the opportunity to receive a non-dilutive grant of $25,000. Up to six start-ups will be chosen. In addition to funding, award recipients will participate in a 10-week accelerator program and receive coaching, mentorship, and other opportunities to help grow their new business.   

The goal of the Vogt Awards is to assist early-stage entrepreneurs develop their innovative products and ideas into viable and successful enterprises that will bring economic and job growth opportunities to Greater Louisville.   

The program is funded by the Vogt Invention and Innovation Fund at the Community Foundation of Louisville, an endowment established in 1999 thanks to businessman and philanthropist Henry Vogt Heuser Sr. The Fund strengthens Louisville’s economic health by supporting innovative businesses and inspiring entrepreneurship. The Fund’s originating $5 million principal is still intact after distributing 108 grants totaling more than $3.9 million, with 38% of those funds going to women or founders of color. From getting financial loans, connecting to angel investors, and the absence of generational wealth knowledge, many of these early-stage businesses feel resources are out of reach. The Vogt Awards program offers them an opportunity to be seen and heard by those who can help move their businesses forward.  

“The Vogt Awards continues to carry out the vision of the Heuser family by providing a platform for growth and mentorship for innovative business founders,” says Ron Gallo, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Louisville. “Supporting early-stage businesses through the Vogt Awards opens opportunity for invention and economic development in our community.”     

Application Process: 

Early-stage businesses have until May 28, 2024, to complete this year’s application.  

 Eligibility requirements include:  

  • Must be a for-profit business  
  • Must have headquarters in the 13-county Louisville metro area   
  • Must be registered with either the Indiana or Kentucky Secretary of State and in good standing  
  • Is developing an innovation-led product or service, which is a new idea or invention that creates customer demand  
  • Has received no more than $250,000/year of customer revenue  
  • Has been funded by no more than $500,000 since its inception  
  • Has at least one founder; a co-founder is not required  
  • Has founder(s) who are working in the business at least part-time   

Preference will be given to businesses that leverage technology, have products or services that have a protectable advantage (intellectual asset) in the market, and have business models with significant growth potential. Businesses may apply and view full eligibility criteria at www.vogtawards.com.   

“This year, we’ve adapted the Vogt Awards program’s eligibility criteria to include businesses with a minimum viable product (MVP) or prototype,” says Lisa Bajorinas, Vogt Awards Program Director. “This adjustment aims to foster rigorous advancement among the selected cohort, ensuring they are at a similar stage of business development. The program’s focus is on supporting scalable and potentially venture-backable companies, emphasizing the program’s commitment to nurturing innovation across diverse industries and perspectives. This refinement aligns with the program’s mission to empower entrepreneurs and drive progress in Louisville’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”   

Vogt Award recipients are announced in July and begin the accelerator program in August. The program culminates on October 10 with Demo Day, where each business owner pitches their idea, product, or service before area entrepreneurs, potential investors, and the Louisville startup community.   

The Community Foundation of Louisville will provide a virtual Vogt Awards Information Session hosted by Program Director Lisa Bajorinas on Thursday, May 9, 2024, from 12 to 1 p.m. This session will provide early-stage businesses with tips on how to write an outstanding application and information about the program’s eligibility criteria.  

For information about the Vogt Awards, virtual info session, and more, visit www.vogtawards.com.