• Join your peers at SSTI's 2024 Annual Conference!

    Join us December 10-12 in Arizona to connect with and learn from your peers working around the country to strengthen their regional innovation economies. Visit ssticonference.org for more information and to register today.

  • Become an SSTI Member

    As the most comprehensive resource available for those involved in technology-based economic development, SSTI offers the services that are needed to help build tech-based economies.  Learn more about membership...

  • Subscribe to the SSTI Weekly Digest

    Each week, the SSTI Weekly Digest delivers the latest breaking news and expert analysis of critical issues affecting the tech-based economic development community. Subscribe today!

$15M Solicitation for Regional Innovation Released

September 04, 2014

The U.S. Department of Commerce released a solicitation (EDA-HDQ-OIE-2014-2004219) for Regional Innovation Grants via the 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program. Under the RIS program, Commerce is soliciting applications for three separate Regional Innovation Strategy funding awards, including:

  • i6 Challenge grants;
  • Science and Research Park Development Grants; and,
  • Cluster Grants to support the development of seed capital funds.

These awards are intended to help develop regional innovation ecosystems that provide support and funding to startups engaged in the commercialization process that ultimately lead to high-growth companies – the drivers of regional economic prosperity and job creation.

Launched in 2010 as part of the Startup America Initiative, i6 Challenge grants support regional economic growth and job creation by providing funding to proof-of-concept and/or commercialization centers that increase the commercialization of innovations, ideas, intellectual property and research into viable companies. Proof-of-concept centers and commercialization centers can be physical or virtual, existing or new.

Through Science and Research Park Development Grants, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) intends 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. Science and research parks funded under this announcement must provide a regionally focused hub for collaborative research, development, and innovation commercialization. For information about what EDA defines as a science and research park, please read the FFO. Funding cannot be used to support actual construction projects.

EDA will award Cluster Grants for seed funds to help support innovation-based, growth-oriented startups (generally less than three years old) by helping increase the availability of seed capital funding in regions across the country. These awards will 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. The proposed seed funds must focus on startups that are commercializing or using an innovative technology in the development of their product or service.

Approximately $15 million in federal funding will be made available to support the three RIS grant programs:

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

Eligibility requirements differ for the three award types. For i6 Challenge grants and Cluster Grants, eligibility is restricted to state and local governments, institutions of higher education and nonprofit organizations. In addition to the types of applicants eligible for other RIS grants, for-profit organizations and hospitals may also apply for Science and Research Park Development Grants. EDA encourages applicants consider applying as a consortium.

Applications must be submitted by November 3, 2014. Read the FFO…

Typical EDA Requirements Do Not Apply
Note that while the program is administered by the Economic Development Administration, it is operating under authorization from the America COMPETES Act of 2010 and not EDA’s traditional authorization language. This means that typical EDA requirements (e.g., operating in distressed areas, administered by the regional offices) do not apply.

SSTI’s Top Legislative Priority
This is the first year funding is available through the program, which has been SSTI’s top legislative priority for the last three years. In 2011, SSTI united a group of organizations to make the Regional Innovation Strategies Program at the U.S. Department of Commerce a viable funding stream for the tech-based economic development (TBED) community. Despite its creation by Congress in the America COMPETES Act of 2010, the program did not receive funding until SSTI began its work. Without coordinated and strategic advocacy from SSTI, the program was destined to remain unfunded and misunderstood by lawmakers on the Hill—or be dismantled all together. SSTI’s work has been possible due to special funding from several leading TBED organizations: Ben Franklin Technology Partners, BioSTL, Center for Innovative Technology, Georgia Research Alliance, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, i2E, Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, JumpStart, Michigan Economic Development Corp. and NorTech. For more information on how you can support the effort contact Dan Berglund at 614.901.1690.

Two Informational Webinars
SSTI is hosting with the Economic Development Administration two informational webinars, which will be recorded and posted to the SSTI website. The webinars will be on Monday, September 8 at 3:00 PM EDT and Wednesday, September 10 at 2:00 PM EDT to answer questions about the FFO.

Click here to register for the Webinar on the 8th.

Click here to register for the Webinar on the 10th.

Space is limited and expected to fill very quickly.

dept of commerce, clusters, research parks