Ignite Buffalo put out the call for small businesses to compete for $1 million in total grants, and 477 applicants responded by this week's deadline.
The program, a partnership that includes 43North, M&T Bank and Facebook, will award 27 grants ranging in size from $25,000 to $100,000.
The number of entries, which were collected in a three-week span, "very much exceeded our expectations," said Colleen Heidinger, 43North's vice president of community engagement and programming.
Small businesses that entered the contest had to come from one of the eight counties of Western New York.
Three judges will electronically score the 477 entries and trim the field to 50 by late June, Heidinger said. Those 50 will compete in person for the 27 grants before a different panel of judges at Facebook Community Boost, a free event set for July 9 to 11 at Erie Community College's downtown campus.