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U.S. Economic Development Administration: Regional Innovation Strategies

Deadline: November 3, 2014

The Economic Development Administration (EDA) is committed to helping foster connected, innovation-centric economic sectors which support commercialization and entrepreneurship as described in the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010. Working with regions across the country to develop regional innovation strategies, including regional innovation clusters, is also a Strategic Goal of the Department of Commerce’s FY 2014-2018 Strategic Plan and a keystone of the Secretary’s commitment to building globally competitive regions.

As part of this strategy, funding is available for capacity-building activities that include Proof of Concept Centers and Commercialization Centers as well as scaling of existing commercialization programs and centers; feasibility studies for the creation and expansion of facilities such as science and research parks; and supporting opportunities to close the funding gap for early-stage companies. To that end, EDA’s existing i6 Challenge program is being joined by additional grant opportunities to create the Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) Program. Under this program, EDA is soliciting applications for three separate competitions:

  1. i6 Challenge: The i6 Challenge is a national competition based on the most impactful national models for startup creation, innovation, and commercialization. EDA expects to fund proposals that create or expand innovative Proof of Concept Centers or Commercialization Centers that will in turn develop the applicant’s capacity to consistently and regularly create high-growth entrepreneurial ventures that contribute to economic growth in the United States. A Proof of Concept Center 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 Commercialization Center is 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.
  2. Science and Research Park Development Grants: EDA expects to fund proposals to conduct feasibility projects, planning projects, or both, for the construction of new science and research parks or the expansion or renovation of existing science and research parks. A Science and Research Development Park: a) is a master-planned property and buildings designed primarily for private-public research and development activities, high technology and science-based companies, and research and development support services; b) has a contractual or operational relationship with one or more science- or research-related institutions of higher education or governmental or nonprofit research laboratories; c) has as a primary mission to promote research and development through industry partnerships, assisting in the growth of new ventures and promoting innovation driven economic development; d) has a role in facilitating the transfer of technology and business skills between researchers and industry teams; and e) has a role in promoting technology-led economic development for the community or region in which the science park is located.
  3. Cluster Grants for Seed Capital Funds: EDA seeks to provide funding for technical assistance to support feasibility, planning, formation, or launch of cluster-based seed capital funds to be deployed in support of innovation-based startups with a potential for high growth. Funding awarded through the seed capital funds will seek to create sustainable financing institutions for startups. The program must focus on new businesses (generally less than three years old) that are commercializing or using an innovative technology in the development of their product or service. Companies must also have demonstrated potential for high-growth and include performance targets for job creation. Programs must include provisions for sustainability through measures such as taking an equity stake in, or collecting royalties from, the businesses they are supporting. Successful seed-level funding programs will also provide for further development of companies they invest in by building and maintaining connections to support organizations such as commercialization centers, incubators and other training programs.

Applicants may, but are not required to, submit proposals for more than one competition under the RIS Program.

Amount: EDA expects to fund:

  • Up to $8 million for the FY 2014 i6 Challenge, from which EDA expects to award approximately 16 or more grants each valued at a maximum of $500,000.
  • Up to $5 million for Science and Research Park Development Grants in FY 2014, from which EDA expects to award approximately 10 or more grants each valued at a maximum of $500,000.
  • Up to $2 million for Cluster Grants for Seed Funds, from which EDA expects to award approximately 8 or more grants each valued at a maximum of $250,000.

Eligibility: A State; Indian tribe; 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; and b. has an application that is supported by a State or a political subdivision of a State; or 5. a consortium of any of the entities described above. For Science and Research Park Development Grants only, in addition to the types of applicants listed above, the following applicants are also eligible to apply: Hospital; Commercial organization; or a consortium of any of the entities eligible.

EDA will provide preference to organizations and consortia that demonstrate regional collaboration and the ability to leverage and complement existing state, local, and non-profit organization programs and initiatives that support science and research, such as university-based programs, national laboratories, etc.

Link: http://www.eda.gov/funding-opportunities/

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