The Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation's Science and Technology Advisory Council (STAC) announces that seven Rhode Island companies will be the first recipients of the Innovate Rhode Island Small Business Fund (IRISBF) matching grants for federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant recipients.
Earlier this year, the Rhode Island General Assembly created the IRISBF to foster job creation, facilitate small business development and enhance the workforce pipeline. Through a variety of programming supported by the fund, eligible Rhode Island small businesses may apply for grants and loans to defray the cost of applying for SBIR/STTR awards, match SBIR/STTR Phase I and Phase II awards, and hire interns.
"Developing the Innovate Rhode Island Small Business Fund was one of the highlights of the legislative year," Governor Lincoln D. Chafee said. "The fund enables us to promote and encourage high-tech research, recognize our small businesses that are doing great work, and attract federal research dollars to Rhode Island."
President of the Rhode Island Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed said, "These grants will help Rhode Island small businesses in the medical, technology and defense industries as they develop ideas and work towards additional federal financing. This state and federal support for innovative small businesses is helping to foster job creation in groundbreaking fields here in Rhode Island."
"With a relatively small investment and very little fanfare, the creation of the Innovate Rhode Island Small Business Fund is a very tangible step forward to improve our state's economy. This program will leverage grants for research on exciting and marketable technologies that will truly benefit our state. I applaud Representative Christopher Blazejewski, the catalyst behind the general assembly's effort to include funding for this program in the current state budget. It was his legislation, which the house included in its economic development package, which led to the creation of this dynamic and forward-thinking initiative," said Rhode Island House of Representatives Speaker Gordon Fox.
The IRISBF will distribute $314,930 among the recipients, who have already received over $1.2 million in federal funding from a competitive Phase I SBIR/STTR federal grant to develop technology that is of interest to a federal agency. The federal agencies benefiting from this research include the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF) and Department of Defense (U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force).
"RIEDC and STAC are focused on helping our businesses in the life sciences, technology and engineering sectors thrive. We have a dynamic research industry, and the development of the IRISBF supports that," said RIEDC Executive Director Marcel A. Valois. "These companies are conducting ground-breaking work to solve real-world problems, and they are accomplishing that work here in Rhode Island."
The goal of the IRISBF matching grants, which are awarded quarterly, is to insure the recipient companies successfully complete the federally funded work and submit a Phase II SBIR/STTR grant proposal to receive additional funding – which can be as much as $750,000 – for the technology development. Achievement of this goal on an ongoing basis will foster job creation, facilitate small business development and enhance the workforce pipeline with the state's life sciences and engineering sectors.
Grant recipients in this award round employ a total of 52 employees in scientific, managerial, technical and administrative positions.
"Ed Bozzi and I founded the R.I. BioScience Leaders, proposed to initiate this legislation, and got the backing of our Rhode Island biotech community," said R.I. BioScience Leaders Co-Chair Denice Spero. "We went to the state house and spoke with the representatives about the amazing science going on in our companies and described how that will translate into products and new medicines. With Representative Christopher Blazejewski working inside the state house, the house and senate then backed us, and Innovate RI was written into law. Sometimes you just have to step forward and that's what we did. I am extremely pleased that the state is putting money toward building our tech-based small companies."
Molly Donohue Magee, executive director of the Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance and a member of STAC, commented that "through the Innovate Rhode Island Small Business Fund legislation, the state has taken an important step to foster and support the innovative efforts of Rhode Island companies supporting the Department of Defense and other federal agencies that participate in the Small Business Innovation Research Program. The matching funds enable companies to further expand their innovative solutions to provide better, faster and more cost-efficient solutions to pressing government problems and these innovate solutions become an economic generator for the Rhode Island economy."
IRISBF grants are distributed in two phases: 75 percent of the grant is disbursed upon successful application to the program and the remaining 25 percent upon submission of a Phase II proposal. The state matches 30 percent of the recipient's federal award, up to $45,000. For more information on the IRISBF, visit http://stac.ri.gov/innovate-ri-fund. The next call for applications will be posted in January.
IRISBF SBIR/STTR Phase I Matching Grant Awards
121 Nexus, Providence, RI Award amount: $45,000
Project description: The primary objective of this project is to determine the feasibility of using AgileQR smart packaging technology in a biomedical track and trace solution for increasing the efficiency of product tracking and recall management.
Applied Radar, Inc., North Kingstown, RI Award amount: $44,978
Project description: Applied Radar is developing a millimeter-wave material characterization system that will be used by the U.S. Army to develop next-generation radar sensors operating up to 225 GHz for helicopter brownout and whiteout situations, as well as miniature robotic all-weather sensors.
Calista Therapeutics, Lincoln, RI Award amount: $45,000
Project description: Calista Therapeutics is developing peptide and protein-based drugs that are designed to affect biological targets that have been impossible to treat by traditional small chemical drugs. This project optimizes an inhaled drug for cystic fibrosis that stabilizes the defective cystic fibrosis ion channel and restores its function.
CREmedical Corporation, North Kingstown, RI Award amount: $44,974
Project description: CREmedical is developing pioneering medical devices to advance diagnosis, therapy and research.
Cytosolv, Providence, RI Award amount: $45,000
Project description: Cytosolv is developing an implantable bioactive material for improving the healing of recurrent hernia. The growth factor-based product targets a population mostly impacted by various co-morbidities that fail to heal after primary hernia repair.
EpiVax, Inc., Providence, RI Award amount: $45,000
Project description: Children with Pompe disease, a life threatening build-up of glycogen that damages muscles, often have an immune response to drugs to treat the condition. This project will further study the use of natural tolerance inducing peptides to increase the efficacy of existing treatments.
Vision Systems, Inc., Barrington, RI Award amount: $44,978
Project description: VSI's SBIR grant is to develop a real-time and an accurate mapping solution of aerial images to the ground. One of the many applications will be to update Google, Bing or GPS maps with real-time visual traffic updates.
About Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation
The Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation is the full service, official economic development organization for the state of Rhode Island. A quasi-public agency, the Corporation serves as a government and community resource to help streamline the business expansion in, and relocation to, Rhode Island. The agency assists companies with commercial real estate, business financing, workforce training and other relevant issues. www.riedc.com
About the Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council (STAC)
The Rhode Island Science & Technology Advisory Council (STAC) is a coalition of leaders in the field of science and technology representing business, medicine, higher education and government. STAC was formed in 2006 and is charged with advising state leadership on strategic investments that drive economic development and job creation by maximizing the economic impact of research, technology and innovation. STAC policies and programs support the state's research and development activity and promote collaboration across institutions, encourage entrepreneurship and new company creation through the transfer of new technologies and discoveries into the marketplace, and create an environment that enables innovation to flourish. STAC serves as governing committee for the $20 million Rhode Island NSF EPSCoR grant.