The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation (RICC), in partnership with the University of Rhode Island (URI), is inviting interested partners to begin sharing concepts and ideas for an Innovation Campus in preparation for an RFP to be released later this year. The Commerce Corporation has issued an Invitation for Expressions of Interest, with the goal of engendering initial ideas on how parties in industry and academia can come together to create a transformative Innovation Campus in Rhode Island. This competition will ultimately award funds from the $20 million bond issuance approved by Rhode Island's voters in November 2016.
"This is another exciting step toward turning our vision for this Innovation Campus into jobs in Rhode Island," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "Over the coming months, we will be working relentlessly to ensure that we see truly transformational proposals come together."
Rhode Island's Innovation Campus is modeled in part on precedents of industry-academia collaboration at a number of facilities across the country and around the world, including the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research, The Bridge at Cornell Tech, and the Tannery Innovation Center in Ontario, Canada.
"We're looking forward to helping potential applicants understand our state's remarkable assets and, ultimately, to increasing the amount of university and medical center research that gets translated into new economic activity and jobs for Rhode Islanders," said Stefan Pryor, Rhode Island's Secretary of Commerce.
"The University of Rhode Island is a major economic asset for the State of Rhode Island and continues to expand its research and development to support the State's economic growth," said David M. Dooley, president of the University of Rhode Island. "The university is well positioned to collaborate with private industry to innovate and produce cutting edge products and technology within an innovation campus."
Ultimately, one or more awards will be chosen through a competitive process designed to attract the best possible proposals to commercialize academic research taking place in Rhode Island. The Commerce Corporation envisions successful applicants being consortia of private industry and academic partners, in addition to URI. Development partners will be required to meet or exceed the state's investment from the bond proceeds. Respondents will be offered access to technical assistance workshops to guide concept development.
According to research conducted by the Brookings Institution in the Rhode Island Innovates report, Rhode Island is a leading state for university research. Rhode Island institutions conduct over $320 million in research each year, and the 30 percent growth in Rhode Island's research activity has been nearly double the national rate of 16 percent.
In November 2016, Rhode Island voters approved a $20 million bond issue to create an Innovation Campus affiliated with URI that will work to bridge the gap between the world-class research occurring at Rhode Island's universities and the opportunity for new startups and job creation that will come with turning that research into commercial activity.
As the state of Rhode Island's public research university and a critical partner in economic development and growth, URI offers 80 undergraduate and 70 graduate programs, including leading programs in engineering, health, business, oceanography and pharmaceutical sciences. URI will work closely with the RICC throughout the solicitation process and will collaborate with the designated partner/team to develop and program the Innovation Campus.
Interested parties will have until September 15 to present initial concepts. Updates on the competition can be followed at www.commerceri.com/ri-innovation-campus.