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Deadline: October 5, 2015

Economic Development Administration: Regional Innovation Strategies

The Economic Development Administration (EDA) is committed to fostering connected, innovation-centric economic regions which support commercialization and entrepreneurship. Funding is available for capacity-building activities that include Proof of Concept Centers (POCCs) and Commercialization Centers (CCs) (as well as scaling of existing commercialization programs and centers) and for operational support for organizations that provide essential early-stage funding to startups. A POCC is a center or program (physical or virtual) which works with very early stage innovations, ideas, intellectual property, and research to provide documented evidence that a product or service can be successful. A CC is a center or program (physical or virtual) which works with later stage innovations, ideas, intellectual property, and research to complete and refine the innovation and fine-tune its market opportunity while supporting the steps toward becoming a viable or expanded business.

The Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) Program will support two unique grant opportunities:

  1. The i6 Challenge: The i6 Challenge will provide funding to invest in the development, creation, or expansion of POCCs and CCs which accelerate innovation-led economic development in pursuit of a vibrant innovative economy and economic growth. POCCs and CCs can be physical or virtual, existing or new. In an effort to promote and support inclusion, EDA expects to award up to $2.5 million of the total $8 million to projects that provide services to rural areas, and applicants that create specific outreach plans to populations and communities that are underrepresented in innovation and entrepreneurship and that propose specific, quantitative metrics to measure the effectiveness of those plans will receive special consideration.
  2. Seed Fund Support: These cluster grants provide funding for technical assistance to support feasibility, planning, formation, or launch of cluster-based seed capital funds that are offered to innovation-based, growth-oriented start-up companies in exchange for equity. Funds must include job creation in their consideration for issuing capital, and funds that reach out to underrepresented communities and populations and measure the effectiveness of that outreach will receive special consideration. EDA funds may not be used to capitalize a seed fund.

Amount: Varies by grant type:

  • i6 Challenge Grants: A total of $8,000,000 is available to award approximately 16 or more grants valued at a maximum of $500,000. Approximately $2,500,000 will be awarded to applications that serve rural communities.
  • Seed Fund Support Grants: Up to $2,00,000 is available for approximately eight or more grants valued at a maximum of $250,000.

Eligibility: States; Indian tribes; a city or other political subdivision of a state; an entity that: a) is a nonprofit organization, an institution of higher education, a public-private partnership, a science or research park, a federal laboratory, or an economic development organization or similar entity, or b) has an application that is supported by a state or a political subdivision of a state; or a consortium of any of these entities.

Link: http://www.eda.gov/oie/ris/

Note: EDA will host several opportunities to find out more about this competition:

  • Wednesday, August 12 at 11:00 am MST: EDA Twitter Chat hosted by @US_EDA and OIE Director @ChiefMuse (use #RISP15 to ask questions)
  • Thursday, August 13 at 2:00 pm MST: SSTI hosted webinar (general RIS)
  • Monday, August 18: White House Rural Council and USDA cohosted webinar (RIS rural component); time TBA

Check the website for information on how to register for the webinars.

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