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A positive ROI for Regional Innovation Strategies

March 16, 2017

Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) funding is showing signs of a positive return on investment, according to recently published results by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA). RIS, an initiative within EDA’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (OIE), supports innovation-based and cluster-focused activities that seek to spur job creation and economic growth. In just two years, RIS awardees have leveraged $1.30 for every federal dollar requested and created nearly 1,000 jobs, according to the EDA.

The RIS program has been and continues to be an important legislative priority for SSTI. The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 originally created the Regional Innovation Strategies program and it received a dedicated appropriation for the first time in FY 2014. RIS is comprised of two key programs: the i6 Challenge grant program, which supports promising ideas around technology commercialization and entrepreneurship, and the Seed Fund Support program, which seeks to fill gaps in early stage capital for startups.

Since the program launched in 2014, EDA has awarded more than $40 million to more than 85 grantees as part of the RIS program. While the 2014 and 2015 grantees have had only 22 months and 11 months into their respective project periods, their approaches have collectively produced encouraging results. As of Sept. 30, 2016, the 2014 and 2015 i6 Challenge program grantees have:

  • Created over 950 full-time jobs;
  • Assisted over 1,000 entrepreneurs and innovators; and,
  • Raised $166 million in private investments, SBIR funding, grants and loans.

As of Sept. 30, 2016, the 2014 and 2015 Seed Fund Support program grantees have:

  • Raised $11 million in seed capital funding; and, 
  • Made 34 investments totaling $3.4 million in early-stage companies.

SSTI expects EDA to release the 2017 Federal Funding Opportunity for the Regional Innovation Strategies program – including the i6 Challenge and Seed Fund Support grants – later this year.