EDA Regional Innovation Grant Opportunities Alert

EDA Regional Innovation Grant Opportunities Alert

09-15-2014, WASHINGTON, DC –

Hamm Consulting Group (HCG) participated on an informational webinar on September 8th hosted by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and State Science & Technology Institute (SSTI) regarding the recently released a solicitation (EDA-HDQ-OIE-2014-2004219) for Regional Innovation Grants.  The presenters were:   

  • Matt Erskine, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Economic Development Administration
  • Julie Lenzer Kirk, Director, Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration
  • Kerstin Millius, Senior Program Analyst, Performance and National Programs Division, Economic Development Administration

This is the first year that Congress has appropriated funding for this solicitation. These grants are part of the 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program. Under the RIS program, the Department of Commerce is soliciting applications for three separate Regional Innovation Strategy funding awards.  Approximately $15 million in federal funding will be made available to support the following three RIS grant programs:

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

This is the fourth round of the i6 Challenge grants program while the other two grants are new.  EDA advised participants that applicants can apply for all one or all of the grants simultaneously but must submit separate applications.  Additionally, there is no limit on the number of projects that can be submitted under each program.  However, separate matching funds will be required for each i6 grant application submitted.

I6 has been expanded, is regionally driven, and highly focused on innovation.  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.  $8 million is available for the program and grant awards will be funded up to a maximum of $500,000.  A 100% match mix of cash or in-kind must be committed at the time of application.

The Science and Research Park Development program will 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.  There are no match requirements and projects have a timeline of one year.  EDA Funding cannot be used to support actual construction projects.  For information about what EDA defines as a science and research park, please Click here to read the grant solicitation.

In regard to the Cluster Grants, EDA staff stated that projects focused on innovative manufacturing and export potential will garner more weight in the application process.  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.

In summary, EDA emphasized that they favor applicants with strong partnerships and this is a key competitive factor. 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.  EDA staff urged potential grant applicants to use to be concise in developing a project concept that does not exceed 12 pages.  They also stated that grant reviewers do not want to hunt through applications to determine the project’s specific goals, objectives and value proposition.  It is important to note that while the RIS program is administered by the EDA, 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.

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.

The webinar presenters were:

            Matt Erskine, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Economic Development Administration

Julie Lenzer Kirk, Director, Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration

Kerstin Millius, Senior Program Analyst, Performance and National Programs Division, Economic Development Administration

Please contact Ron Hamm at rhamm@hammconsulting.com or 202-596-8384 for additional information.