Local officials hope to bring area entrepreneurs up to speed with a new accelerator program designed to help emerging businesses become stronger quicker.

Albemarle County, Charlottesville and the University of Virginia have created the Catalyst Accelerator Program to provide staff, workspace, advisers, programming and $20,000 grants for startup businesses with a high potential of quick expansion.

Applications will be accepted from Aug. 1 to Aug. 23 for the first class, which will begin in the fall.

In the next two years, the program is expected to select and support 20 early-stage companies for the nine-month program.

Organizations collaborating with Catalyst include the Charlottesville Business Innovation Council, Community Investment Collaborative, Small Business Development Center, CvilleBioHub, UVa Licensing and Ventures Group and the Charlottesville Angel Network.

The program also will provide internship and project-based learning opportunities for students and connect businesses with students who are developing skills in data analytics, digital marketing, software development and design.

The Catalyst Accelerator Program was made possible by a two-year grant from the GO Virginia Region 9 Council.

More information, including the criteria for applying to the program, can be found at http://434.co.

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