Spark Capital, a venture firm focused on media, entertainment and technology investments, announced the kick off of its new seed-funding program, Start@Spark. The new initiative will give out funds in chunks of up to $250,000 to incubate early-stage companies in the New York and Boston areas before they seek formal rounds of capital.

The firm, based in Boston itself, asks that startups interested in the program sign up on their web site with preliminary information. Those that fit Spark’s criteria will be granted an in-person presentation with the team and will find out relatively quickly whether or not they will receive financing.

The purpose of the program is to spur technology and innovation in the northeastern region of the U.S., where Boston is the only real bastion of tech power (still dwarfed by its Californian cousin). This same spirit prompted the firm’s Alliance for Open Competition, a loose network of investors and entrepreneurs who work together to bust non-compete clauses to heat up competition.

As paidContent points out, Start@Spark fits neatly into a new trend of large firms setting up small-scale seeding operations. The key example of this from last week is Sequoia Capital’s partnership with angel investment group YCombinator to offer seed grants between $5,000 and $20,000 to fund promising concepts.

In the past, Spark has invested in several major companies sitting at the intersection of technology and media, including Twitter, Tumblr, web application company Akamai Technologies, and content syndication service thePlatform. It is currently managing $622 million and is also a benefactor of TechStars, a similar seed initiative with a strong mentorship component based in Boulder, Colo.

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