U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Announces Awardees of $10 Million in Grants to Advance Innovation Across America

25 Grants Issued through the Regional Innovation Strategies Program to Spur Capacity-Building and Access to Capital for Innovators and Entrepreneurs


Monday, February 8, 2016

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced the 25 awardees that will receive $10 million under the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) 2015 Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program. The 2015 RIS program is managed by EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) and is designed to advance innovation and capacity-building activities in regions across the country through two different competitions: the i6 Challenge and the Seed Fund Support (SFS) Grants competition.

“As the driving force behind the Administration’s focus on entrepreneurship, the Department of Commerce is committed to helping set the conditions for innovators and entrepreneurs to test new ideas, take risks, find financing and customers, and ultimately thrive,” said Secretary Pritzker. “The Regional Innovation Strategies program is critical to ensuring that entrepreneurs have access to the tools they need to move their ideas and inventions from idea to market.”

“As Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I've fought for investments in innovative research to make our economy stronger by supporting jobs today and jobs tomorrow,” said U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) “These funds in the federal checkbook will help turn those new ideas in the laboratories into successful products in the marketplace, invented and manufactured right here at home. I'll continue to fight for the innovation economy in Maryland and across our country to keep us competitive in the global economy.”

Traveling today in Portland, Maine, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams joined U.S. Senator Angus King and U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree to formally announce these awards, specifically an i6 investment that will help expand the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development’s (MCED)  Top Gun program into the Top Gun Rural Accelerator Network (Top Gun RANE) and a Seed Fund Support grant to support Coastal Enterprises Inc.’s (CEI) Natural Resource Business Seed Capital Fund.

“This 2015 Regional Innovation Strategy cohort of grantees is truly an exciting group – the diversity in programs and regional representation proves that innovation and entrepreneurship are igniting all corners of the country,” Assistant Secretary Williams said. “From Puerto Rico to Pittsburgh, and Seattle to Blacksburg, these programs will reach all kinds of communities and help entrepreneurs gain the edge they need to succeed.”

i6 Challenge

The i6 Challenge, was launched in 2010 as part of the Startup America Initiative, and is now in its fifth iteration. The i6 Challenge is a national competition that makes small, targeted, high-impact investments to support startup creation, innovation, and help turn technology into jobs. The funding supports the development and expansion of new and existing Proof-of-Concept and Commercialization Centers, which help innovators fine tune and scale their innovations to bring new products and services to the market.

Applications were evaluated in part on the strength of their specific outreach plans to populations and communities that are underrepresented in innovation and entrepreneurship and on specific, quantitative metrics to measure the effectiveness of that outreach.

The total amount of funding for the i6 Challenge under this RIS round is $8 million.

Seed Fund Support Grants

This year’s eight Seed Fund Support grants provide funding for technical assistance to support feasibility, planning, formation, or launch of cluster-based seed capital funds that provide equity-based investments in early-stage, innovation-based, startups that have high growth potential but that often struggle to secure funding early in their lifecycles. Projects were evaluated in part on their specific outreach plans aimed at underrepresented communities.

The total amount of funding for the Seed Fund Support competition under RIS is $2 million.

Grantees under the RIS i6 Challenge include:

Grantees under the Seed Fund Support competition for this round of RIS include:

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The Economic Development Administration marks 50 years of public service, leading the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth. 

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Last updated: 2017-10-19 10:18

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