The Efactory’s 2020 business accelerator program has been canceled.
Efactory Director Rachel Anderson said the board made the decision to cancel the fifth cohort in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It's a pretty small room to try to host people in and follow social distancing guidelines. We just didn't think that we'd be able to do that,” Anderson said. “Also, in the past, some of the companies that have been selected are not necessarily local to Springfield. That would have required them moving here. That's a lot to ask somebody to do during a pandemic.”
The Missouri State University business incubator began the accelerator program in 2016. Businesses receive $30,000 in seed money in exchange for 8% equity in their companies. The Springfield Innovation Inc. board, which manages investments in the companies, has provided more than a $500,000 boost among the participating startups since the program’s start.
The accelerator also offers mentorship, office spaces, networking and additional funding opportunities. The program was set to run mid-May through mid-August.
“We're still trying to work through ways that we can get funding to startup companies and small businesses,” Anderson said. “The board has already discussed a few different actions. I think until we as a society get through the next few months and know what's to come and the impact of COVID, we're not going to make a hard and fast decision.
“Our core still is how do we help companies get started and grow.”
The Efactory last month announced its operations were in jeopardy after Gov. Mike Parson defunded the Missouri Technology Corp. through a budget withholding. The MTC helps fund the Efactory. The Efactory and Jordan Valley Innovation Center's fiscal 2020 MTC appropriation was $161,539, which was matched locally via the organizations' operational fund.
Hybrid coffeehouse and plant shop Urban Grounds launched in Ozark; the Missouri Job Center relocated; and Closet Chic LLC opened a brick-and-mortar shop.