Governor Gina M. Raimondo today announced that six Rhode Island companies have been selected to receive Innovation Vouchers intended to stimulate innovation, facilitate in-state partnerships and give Rhode Island a competitive edge that will help the state grow and attract business. "Our Innovation Grants give startups the spark they need to turn their ideas into businesses," Raimondo said. "Our state is on the move. In part because of our entrepreneurs and small businesses, our unemployment rate is the lowest it's been since 2001. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranks Rhode Island as the second-best state in America for innovation and entrepreneurship. We've added nearly 15,000 jobs since I was elected and businesses of all sizes are taking a fresh look at Rhode Island." Innovation Vouchers allow eligible Rhode Island enterprises with fewer than 500 employees to fund R&D assistance from a Rhode Island university, research center or medical center on a specific project.
This is the fifth round of grants to be awarded since Gov. Raimondo and the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation in partnership with the General Assembly introduced the Innovation Voucher Program in 2015. This brings the total amount of voucher recipients to 34.
The projects approved in the latest round represent a variety of industry sectors important to the state, including health care, life sciences, textile manufacturing, naval research, and defense.
"This program is designed to help spur innovation and foster breakthroughs, and these grant recipients are well on their way to doing just that," said Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. "This access to R&D capital will undoubtedly help these entrepreneurs and small businesses take great steps forward, and may just be the crucial spark in a game-changing discovery."
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; and/or scale-to-market development of an innovative idea.
The innovation projects being funded by the grants include: • Sproutel, Inc. of Providence will receive $50,000 and will partner with Brown University to assess the effectives of Jerry the Bear platform and a new prototype for delivering healthcare information to children. Jerry the Bear is an interactive toy for children with type 1 diabetes that helps them learn about their medical procedures and treatment through play.
• CoreMechanics, LLC of Narragansett will receive $50,000 and will partner with the University of Rhode Island on the company's development of wearable exercise products for daily use in prevention and stabilization of musculoskeletal injury. URI's College of Business Administration will be providing needed industry standard testing of the garment portion of the product. The company's initial product, CoreForm, is designed to improve core muscles from the neck to lower back, enhance posture and spinal/shoulder alignment, improve balance, and increase circulation.
• Prometheus, Inc. of Newport, will receive $50,000 to partner with the Naval UnderSea Warfare Center to provide the experimental evidence demonstrating that Prometheus algorithms applied to acoustic data will find the delamination while a submarine is in water thereby providing a method to significantly reduce maintenance costs for the submarines by hundreds of millions over time.
• Navatek, Ltd. of South Kingstown will receive $50,000 to partner with the University of Rhode Island, drawing on the university's mechanical and structural engineering expertise to help develop a better computational methodology for new and increasingly innovative designs of drop stitch inflatable structures. When inflated, these drop stitches are placed in tension, resulting in a stabilized inflated flat panel with improved shear resistance. Drop stitch structures are stiffer than similarly sized simple inflated bladders.
• Desmark Industries, Inc. of Cranston will receive $49,896 to work with the University of Rhode Island to investigate, design and test textile composites for body armor focusing on research, development, materials selection, and testing methods in creating wearables for security and military force protection during engagement which may include non-weapon combat, knife attacks, and bullets.
• Cooley Group of Pawtucket will receive $50,000 and partner with the University of Rhode Island to drive research activities in the development of (1) product technical specifications that will include detailed information of beacon technologies and smart textile antennas, and (2) will provide the records of all the studies and trials conducted on prototypes created for smart billboards. This project centers around the concept of Smart Billboards and how they can be developed to address market demands in an era when urbanization is at its fullest expansion, and when cities are seeking smart technologies such as internet-of-things to autotomize various operations To date there have been 34 innovation vouchers awarded for partnerships with 10 knowledge partners. For more information about Innovation Vouchers, visit http://commerceri.com/finance-business/taxes-incentives/innovation-vouchers/.