Governor Gina M. Raimondo today announced that four small Rhode Island companies have been awarded Innovation Vouchers through the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation. This program is 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, and lower than our neighbors in Massachusetts. We've added nearly 13,000 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 sixth 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 36.
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.
"We are pleased to support the small, innovative businesses here in Rhode Island that are undertaking game-changing discoveries, creating new product lines, and growing their companies," said Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. "Given these innovation vouchers, small businesses can access the R&D capacity that is often key to their continued and increased success."
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: • EpiVax, Inc. of Providence will receive $50,000 and will partner with Rhode Island Hospital to accelerate the development of a computational pipeline for personalized cancer vaccine design that will enable the patient's own immune system to recognize tumor-specific mutations to induce tumor control and rejection. Because every patient's tumor carries a unique set of mutations, the Ancer TM approach will deliver personalized immunotherapies and realize the promise of precision medicine.
• Full Measure, LLC of Bristol will receive $43,868 and will partner with Roger Williams University to continue to evaluate applications of the company's FMCal in the field of shellfish aquaculture and shellfish management. Funding will be used to refine the company's understanding of optimal application rates in the hatchery setting to develop a stronger, more dense shell in fast-growing, commercially-farmed shellfish. The company will also explore the potential use of calcium product in natural settings where ocean acidification has reduced the ability of small clams to successfully settle onto the sediment surface and survive.
• Rite Solutions, Inc. of Middletown will receive $50,000 to partner with the University of Rhode Island. Rite Solutions, an award-winning small business innovator known for adapting commercial technologies to support defense needs, will work to develop the capability for a system to learn in order to predict equipment failures, specifically within a submarine's combat system network. This will provide the company with the ability to add Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions into existing software products for DOD and commercial customers to improve the readiness of operational systems.
• Tech Against Assault, PBC of Providence, will receive $49,800 to work with Cara Lupino, a forensic scientist at the Rhode Island Department of Health trained in the analysis of sexual assault kits. The company will collect data to validate a new diagnostic device for collection of forensic evidence of sexual assault. Once validated, the chemically modified swab can also be utilized for testing of the presence of alcohol, drugs, HIV, STI/STD and hazardous chemicals. To date innovation vouchers have been awarded to 36 companies for partnerships with 11 knowledge partners. For more information about Innovation Vouchers, visit http://commerceri.com/finance-business/taxes-incentives/innovation-vouchers/. ###