This year’s program includes $10 million in funding for the following programs:
· i6 Challenge ($8M): Launched in 2010 as part of the Startup America Initiative, the i6 Challenge is a national competition based on the most impactful national models for startup creation, innovation, and commercialization. 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 who create specific outreach plans to populations and communities that are underrepresented in innovation and entrepreneurship. Projects that propose specific, quantitative metrics to measure the effectiveness of those plans will receive special consideration.
· Seed Fund Support Grants ($2M): 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.
Applicants are encouraged to refer to the Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) for examples of both the i6 Challenge and Seed Fund Support Grants. There is no requirement for applicants to submit proposals for more than one of the funding opportunities under this program. Funding for both programs is available to all communities regardless of level of distress.
Eligibility, matching-fund requirements, application and submission deadlines, and other information can be found in the FFO for the program.
In the coming weeks, EDA will conduct a webinar to discuss the 2015 RIS Program FFO. Interested parties should check the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship website for forthcoming details.
Launched in 2014, the Regional Innovation Strategies Program started under the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act of 2010. The 2014 grantees have begun to kick off the activities outlined in their applications. For more information on the Regional Innovation Strategies Program, visit: http://www.eda.gov/oie/ris/.