PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Governor Gina M. Raimondo opened the second round of the state's Innovation Voucher Program today, soliciting applications from Rhode Island companies with fewer than 500 employees to apply for grants of up to $50,000 to fund research and development (R&D).
"The Innovation Voucher Program enables us to support and incentivize the important research and development work being done in Rhode Island," Raimondo said. "Our state is rapidly emerging as a top hub of innovation and this program will help us keep the momentum going. These grants were oversubscribed last year - with nearly three times more demand than supply - and we're looking forward to great turnout again this round."
Innovation Voucher applications received by October 28, 2016, will be reviewed for funding. Applications received after that date will be reviewed contingent upon available funding. Approximately $1.5 million in funding is available this fiscal year.
The Innovation Voucher Program was introduced in 2015 by Raimondo and the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation in partnership with the General Assembly. In its second funding period, the grant offer will again be extended to Rhode Island businesses that are seeking to stimulate innovation that will move them to the next level.
"Innovation is key to the success of Rhode Island's economy, and with tools like the Innovation Voucher Program, we're poised to promote business innovation vigorously and effectively," said Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. "Our Innovation Voucher Program is helping businesses - small and large - unlock their R&D potential and access the resources they need to succeed. Through this initiative program, we're giving Rhode Island a competitive edge that will help us grow and attract business."
Innovation Vouchers can be used for: Support toward commercializing a new product, process or service; Access to scientific, engineering and design expertise that fits an innovation need; Technological development and exploration to make an innovation come to life; Scale-to-market development of an innovative idea. In the initial Innovation Voucher call for applications, the corporation received over $1.4 million in requests from 34 applicants for $500,000 in funding. The approved projects represent a variety of industry sectors important to the state, including aquaculture, defense, advanced manufacturing, biomedical engineering and technology, pharmaceuticals and green industries.
The grants have enabled each company to partner with a local university, research center, or medical center for R&D assistance with a specific project. Because of high demand in the first year of applications, funding has been tripled to $1.5 million for this second round.
"The Innovation Voucher grant accelerated development of a crucial component of our product," said Jeanine Sinanan-Singh of Vitae Industries, which partnered with Brown University. "It gave us unique access to the best possible resources in the field for this type of work. We would be hard-pressed to find a better option."
Rhode Island also offers Industry Cluster Grants to get 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 the cluster in areas like R&D, tech transfer, workforce development or marketing.
Furthermore, the state's Innovation Network Matching Grants offer technical assistance, space on flexible terms and/or access to capital to Rhode Island small businesses in key industries (e.g., life sciences, healthcare, food and agriculture, clean technology, energy efficiency, cyber security and others as designated). Grants of up to $500,000 are available.
Download an application for the Innovation Voucher (and all other incentives offered by the Commerce Corporation), as well as learn more about the requirements for eligibility and program details by visiting the Commerce website here.
About the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation The Rhode Island Commerce 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. For more information, visit: www.visitrhodeisland.com and www.commerceri.com.