InterSector: Helping entrepreneurs design solutions for profit, people and planet

InterSectorIdea Foundry’s InterSector Accelerator supports socially- and environmentally-focused businesses that need a longer runway to profitability due to their double- and triple-bottom-line commitment. InterSector helps early-stage social enterprise companies to find the best opportunities for impact and revenue generation, and positions them for potential entry into the Transformation Fellowship Program. InterSector supports businesses committed to delivering profit and social and/or environmental benefits to their stakeholders: customers, investors, employees, and the communities in which they operate.

Areas of Innovation Focus

  • Agriculture and food systems
  • Alternative fuels and renewable energy
  • Energy efficiency and innovation
  • Recycled and sustainable materials
  • Community and workforce development
  • And more…

Why Apply to InterSector?

In the Trenches

Through a customized process tailored to your company’s unique needs, Idea Foundry’s seasoned management team will develop and execute a workplan to help you to take the next step in commercializing your idea.


Up to $10,000 is offered to participants that can be used to cover critical early-stage expenses.

Proof of Concept Lab

Tailored assistance to confirm that the business idea works, from understanding the target market to ensuring that the double- or triple-bottom-line is feasible.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kinds of ideas are you looking for? What types of ventures does InterSector support?
The InterSector Accelerator is designed to support entrepreneurs in the social innovation sector, and is seeking applicants with ideas for for-profit businesses that will provide market-based solutions to some of our most pressing societal problems. Qualified teams will present ideas that are revenue-generating and that also provide positive environmental and/or social impacts on our communities.
I have not formed a business, I just have a great idea that I think will change the world! Am I too early to apply?
Most likely no! No stage is too early, as InterSector is designed to test and validate ideas. InterSector is appropriate for companies who are just at idea stage, through those who are already piloting their products or services.
What kinds of business development services do you offer?
Every venture’s needs are different, due to their stage of development, uniqueness of industry, etc. Therefore, services vary and are determined by our team of advisors during the application, evaluation, and selection process. However, some areas we frequently help our companies work on include:

  • Uncovering challenges to building a profitable business that creates sustained environmental and social impacts, and devising strategies to overcome those challenges
  • Discovering market threats as well as opportunities to your idea within the region
  • Understanding the competitive landscape and exploring potential partnerships
  • Recognizing and communicating your unique value proposition
  • Developing a sales pitch to acquire a pilot/first customer and attract investors

I will need office and/or lab space. Can Idea Foundry help?
While we do not house our accelerator companies in house, InterSector does maintain relationships with many co-working office and lab spaces across the city and may be able to work something out on your behalf.
When can I apply?
InterSector has 2 application cycles yearly, one in the fall and one in the spring. Application cycles generally open in mid-February and mid-August and close 2 months later. The bulk of accelerator work takes place over the summer and the winter.
How long does the application process take?
The entire application and selection process typically takes about a month, however, you should hear from us within a couple weeks of the application cycle closing. After we have reviewed all submissions, the strongest applicants will be invited to pitch their idea to our team of social enterprise advisors. Successful delivery of your pitch will result in an offer to officially sign on to the InterSector Accelerator approximately 2 weeks later.
How much time do I need to commit to the InterSector Accelerator, and what does participation entail?
During the accelerator, each entrepreneur will work closely with the InterSector team, meeting each week for 12-16 weeks to substantiate your business model, work on business planning, and create strategies that will enable you to launch a sustainable, high-impact business that will solve problems in our local communities. It is a very hands on and collaborative engagement, with each party walking away with homework to complete between meetings.
What happens after the accelerator is over?
At the conclusion of the 12-16 week program, if we determine that your enterprise shows significant potential for achieving double bottom-line success (meeting mission and profit goals), you will be asked to apply to our core Idea Transformation Fellowship Program, where you will receive additional funding and hands-on-help in bringing your solutions to market.

Learn More about InterSector

Many forces have converged that make Pittsburgh an ideal place for nurturing social entrepreneurship: its ability to attract and retain Millennials, who are insistent on building meaningful careers infused with purpose and service to society; recent local trends that mirror national tendencies of decreased funding in government budgets and philanthropic for non-profit activities and social services; a rise in socially responsible and impact investing; corporate uptake of sustainable business practices and social responsibility; and, the evolution of legal structures, like Benefit Corporations, that are better suited for social enterprise.

Follow us on Twitter at @InterSectorPGH to learn more!

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Recent Portfolio Companies