Application Materials

InterSector Application Cycle Closed

Next Cycle: Spring 2016

Application Materials


Can business be a force for good? We know it can.

We want to support and strengthen your high-impact, scalable, and innovative business ideas.

As the first and only of its kind in the Pittsburgh region, InterSector is a triple-bottom line accelerator that gives hands-on, individual attention and investment to develop ideas that restore environments, better human lives, create jobs, and strengthen the global economy.

Our portfolio companies work to stop human trafficking, develop biofuels, turn trash into fabric, improve business communications, and create access to healthy foods, to name a few.  

Building off 13 years of experience, we use research-based best practices and time-tested tools developed by Idea Foundry to work with ten social entrepreneurs a year. Our one-on-one, rigorous proof-of-concept lab tests your idea’s ability to meet the challenges of starting and running a business that balances the well-being of people, planet and profit equally. During your time here, we position you for potential graduation into Idea Foundry’s main Transformation Fellowship Program for further investment and development.

Visit our social enterprise portfolio and blog to see stories of “business for good” in action, and find our recent thoughts on Facebook and Twitter.

                Farm Truck Foods                                      Thread, LLC                                  Optimus Technologies

Hear it from our companies

“The InterSector Accelerator provided in three months what might have been accomplished in a year. You prevented costly mistakes, offered valuable start-up funding, but most of all, you provided me with confidence that I am making the best decisions for my business.” – SEED Aquaponics

“The InterSector program as a whole was very organized and planned out which in comparison to other programs we have participated in was a huge plus. It was great to put time into competitive landscape and talk through everything in terms of goals, timelines, and projections.” – Fittsburgh

InterSector Logo

On the Foundry Floor

How we work with you

As foundries melt, mold, and shape metals into strong, resilient, and useful tools, InterSector runs a Proof of Concept Lab that tests the viability and resilience of an idea and builds a business model from the ground up. We work down to your idea’s core elements, examining relevant market research to discover opportunities for impact and revenue generation, and create unique tools that help move your idea from concept to company.

Funding & Guidance

InterSector lowers risk and increases confidence for participating social entrepreneurs, because they receive an honest assessment of their ideas before they have invested more than the market may actually return. They can trust this assessment and avoid unnecessary and expensive mistakes because our programs are partially funded through the returns we make on initial investments in promising companies. In addition to 12 weeks of hands-on, customized assistance, InterSector participants also receive an investment of up to $10,000 to cover startup expenses critical to the company’s early-stage development.

Our Theory of Change

InterSector was created to address the city’s growing entrepreneurial interest in creating businesses with a social and environmental mission. We’ve seen the number of social enterprise applications more than double since founding the InterSector Accelerator in 2012, and each year we select 10 entrepreneurs to work with. InterSector adds value to the local economy by supporting social entrepreneurs who are reinventing the principles of for-profit business to solve and prevent environmental and social problems while creating profit and economic opportunity for all involved stakeholders.

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 seeks applicants with ideas for for-profit businesses that will provide market-based solutions to some of our most pressing societal and environmental problems. Qualified teams can present ideas that are revenue-generating and 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.

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.

InterSector’s Vision + Mission


InterSector is helping to generate the next wave of social enterprise companies creating sustainable economic opportunity in Western Pennsylvania and measurable social change locally and globally. We aim to increase the number of high-impact, socially-responsible businesses operating in Western Pennsylvania, and extend the reach of this business model throughout Pittsburgh and beyond, because we believe business for good is the future.


InterSector, a program of Idea Foundry, funds and guides the creation of early stage social enterprise companies who develop innovative, efficient, market-based solutions to the world’s most pressing social and environmental problems. We help entrepreneurs take the first steps toward building the foundations of scalable businesses that create social good and profit, by helping them prove their concept and validate their business model. InterSector operates out of Pittsburgh, PA, and is expanding its services globally through projects in China and Mexico.

Follow us on Twitter at @InterSectorPGH to learn more!

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