Governor Gina M. Raimondo and the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation Board of Directors tonight approved approximately $750,000 in Industry Cluster Grant awards to spur innovation and encourage collaboration among key industry sectors in Rhode Island. The awards focus on key clusters in the areas of R&D, tech transfer, workforce development, and marketing.
"These grants will make it easier for industries with some of the highest potential for growth to come together to collaborate, innovate, and overcome barriers to success," said Governor Gina Raimondo. "By working together, they will be able to develop talent, exchange ideas, and, most of all, create jobs and move our economy forward."
"Industry Cluster Grants allow businesses to work together within their sectors to find new opportunities and take their industries to the next level," said R.I. Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. "These grants, in concert with our other innovation-focused programs, are making our business ecosystem ever stronger."
The Industry Cluster Grant Program was created with an initial allocation of $750,000 in the FY2016 budget. The reaction to the program has been exceptional, with demand far outpacing supply: the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation received 26 applications seeking over $5.7 million in funding. The 7 grant awards approved tonight total $748,640 in funding.
"Eduvate, RI's new Education Innovation Cluster, has the ability to disrupt the market by providing a suite of supports and services to attract, incubate, and test educational innovations," said Dana Borrelli-Murray, Executive Director of the Highlander Institute. "With the facilitation and convening supports of the Highlander Institute and the state's Innovation Office, RI is now poised to develop partnerships between research institutions, schools and product developers in order to capitalize on this $800B industry, emerge as an industry leader in this burgeoning space, and capture a greater share of this growing market. Thank you to the Commerce Corporation for supporting education as we look to provide students and educators with a more personalized learning environment that best meets the needs of the 21st century."
Grant awards announced include:
DesignXRI was awarded a technical assistance grant of $100,000 to make Rhode Island design expertise visible through marketing materials and promote design as an important investment for Rhode Island businesses.
Highlander Institute was awarded a technical assistance grant of $149,750 to leverage compact size and existing education networks as a unique platform for testing new Education Technology ("EdTech") products developers to enhance Rhode Island as an Edtech Hub that can retain and recruit Edtech talent and businesses.
International Yacht Restoration School, Inc. was awarded a technical assistance grant of $75,290 to develop plans for a "Mobile Maker Lab," a traveling trailer equipped with 21st century manufacturing technologies in order to incorporate advanced manufacturing and design into high school curriculum to enhance workforce development and innovation.
Polaris & RI Composites was awarded a technical assistance grant of $99,600 to promote the adoption of composites as a new material for manufactured products.
Partnership for a Greater Future Providence & Southside Community Land Trust was awarded a technical assistance grant of $115,000 to grow urban food cluster businesses by bringing in new outside investors and business partners, collaborating with and building on scalable local food cluster organizations, and prioritizing projects with attractive job creation and/or neighborhood redevelopment impacts.
Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance (SENEDIA) was awarded an implementation grant of $109,000 to provide small firms with information on Department of Defense and Homeland Security budgets, programs and points of contact so they have similar business development intelligence enjoyed by larger companies.
Rhode Island Manufacturers Association (RIMA) was awarded an implementation grant of $100,000 to increase access to advanced manufacturing facilities and expand local supply chains.
The Industry Cluster Grants program encourages companies in an industry sector to work together to solve problems, exchange ideas and develop talent. Grants of $75,000 to $250,000 are available to fund planning and organization building for the cluster; and grants of $100,000 to $500,000 are available to implement programs that strengthen their cluster.