CONCORD — There are a half a million new reasons to start a company in New Hampshire. Seeking to ignite the launch of new tech startups in New Hampshire, the NH High Technology Council and the abi Innovation Hub announced a new $500,000 competition. 

The start up competition has received funding commitments from 20 accredited investors who have also pledged to help mentor entrepreneurs and boost the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the State. There were several more investors interested in participating, which means “The Fund” could grow in future years.

Each year for the next five years, $100,000 in prize money will be invested in winning companies. First prize of $50,000 and second prize of $30,000 will be determined by a panel of judges organized by the Entrepreneurs Foundation of New Hampshire, an initiative of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. A third prize winner of $20,000 will be selected by the audience during a live pitch off of Finalists at an annual event to be held in the Fall.

The first competition will be held on September 20 at a location to be determined.

The venture, initially called “The Fund” while an Internet URL and website is determined, will be managed by a separate company incorporated by five individuals from New Hampshire’s tech sector. They are the abi Innovation Hub Executive Director Jamie Coughlin; early-stage investor Matt Pierson; co-founder and chief technology officer of Dyn Tom Daly, a Manchester Internet firm; Executive Director of the New Hampshire High Technology Council Matt Cookson; and member of the Cook, Little, Rosenblatt and Manson law firm Matt Benson.

“This competition fills a void in New Hampshire’s start up scene,” stated Pierson. “Not only are we going to put money into winning start up companies, we’re going to leverage the knowledge of our investors in helping them grow their businesses and ultimately attract additional capital.”

The abi’s Jamie Coughlin stated, “By having a five-year commitment to fund this event up front, we’re sending a strong message to entrepreneurs that we’re establishing New Hampshire as leader in getting start ups off the ground. This is all about investing in people, ideas, and ultimately stimulating our next crop of tech companies.”

“This competition is one more initiative to help drive innovation in New Hampshire,” added Cookson. “This effort will help create new, high paying jobs in our dynamic tech sector. The fact that individuals have stepped up to fund this effort demonstrates the commitment to nurturing our entrepreneurs.”

The Fund is an investment initiative focused on funding new startup technology businesses that will grow in New Hampshire. While companies do not have to be based in New Hampshire upon application, it is expected that the winning companies will relocate to grow part or all of their business in the state. While investors in The Fund anticipate a financial return on the portfolio of companies that ultimately receive investments, equally important is the opportunity to help promote and develop the entrepreneurial ecosystem in New Hampshire.

Investors in The Fund have experience mentoring and supporting local entrepreneurs, helping them achieve the success that they themselves have achieved. Winning companies will receive similar support from this group and from the larger ecosystem.

More information on eligibility and the application process will be posted on the abi Innovation Hub and NH High Tech Council websites in mid-June. A limited number of sponsors will be solicited to support the event, which promises to attract significant attention across the state. For sponsorship information, please e-mail info@NHHTC.org or call 935-8951.