Posted at 1:30 PM
Earlier today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced 35 organizations from 19 states that will receive nearly $15 million to create and expand cluster-focused proof-of-concept and commercialization programs and early-stage seed capital funds. The diverse group of nonprofits, institutions of higher education, and other entrepreneurship-focused organizations will secure funding through the Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program, an initiative housed in the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA).
Since 2014, EDA has invested nearly $40 million in RIS grantees that have leveraged more than $46 million in additional private matching funds. The program provides the technical and business assistance and access to capital that helps organizations transform ideas into products and services and, ultimately, into jobs. RIS grants are broken into two categories — the i6 Challenge and the Seed Fund Support (SFS) Grant Competition. Programmatic support to help convert research and inventions into jobs is funded through the i6 Challenge, while increased access to capital is supported through SFS grants.
This year’s group of awardees, selected from a pool of more than 215 applicants, reach urban and rural areas across the United States. From Atlanta to Toledo and from Oklahoma City to Fresno, today’s investments represent a broad array of communities and will help entrepreneurs gain the edge they need to succeed. In fact, this year’s RIS grantees include:
- Multiple rural programs.
- Several urban innovation centers.
- Six maker spaces and prototyping programs.
- Two awards that engage with or directly support a Historically Black College or University.
- Two awards provided to community colleges.
- Six awards in Investing in Manufacturing Community Partnership regions.
- The expansion of a Venture Assessment Program to promote high-growth entrepreneurship in Oklahoma’s rural and Native American communities.
- Support for a women-focused investment fund.
- Among the eight Seed Fund Support grants, two projects focus on impact investing.
Last year, during the White House’s first-ever Entrepreneurship Demo Day, EDA made a commitment to increase support for underrepresented entrepreneurship communities and populations through the RIS program. This year’s awardees help fulfil that commitment.
The diversity in programs and the geographical representation of this year’s awardees prove that innovation and entrepreneurship are igniting all corners of the country. EDA is a proud partner in supporting the innovators and job creators of tomorrow.