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.
"The U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranks Rhode Island as the second-best state in America for innovation and entrepreneurship. Our Innovation Grants give startups the spark they need to turn their ideas into businesses," said Governor Raimondo. "Our state is on the move. In part because of our entrepreneurs and small businesses, our unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since 2001. We've added more than nearly 15,000 jobs since the 2014 election 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 second 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. Because of high demand in the first year of applications, Innovation Voucher funding was tripled to $1.5 million for this second round.
The projects approved for 2017 represent a variety of industry sectors important to the state, including medical devices, life sciences, pharmaceutical manufacturing, data analytics, media production, engineering and shipbuilding.
"This year our Innovation Voucher Program will help businesses from Barrington to Bristol, East Greenwich to Pawtucket access the R&D resources they need to succeed," said Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. "Among the innovation projects, the award-winners will be developing new technologies to harvest tidal energy and seeking to identify the underlying biology of tumors. We are excited to see the results of these partnerships."
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 2017 grants include:
• BluSource Energy Inc. of Bristol will receive $50,000 and will partner with Brown University on the development of the Leading Edge Oscillating Foil (LEOF), a new technology to harvest tidal energy. BluSource built the LEOF prototype and test vessel, which was successfully tested on the Cape Cod Canal in 2016.
• Medley Genomics Inc. of Providence will receive $50,000 and will partner with Rhode Island Hospital on developing novel approaches to define genomic heterogeneity in disease. Funds will be used to acquire and analyze key data from primary and metastatic tumors to validate the software in a clinical setting • NanoDe Therapeutics Inc. of Barrington will receive $50,000 and will partner with Rhode Island Hospital to discover how to best optimize the physical attributes of Nanopieces™ (NP), a novel, next generation platform nucleic acid delivery technology. Designed to overcome the challenge of delivering therapeutics to dense, difficult-to penetrate tissues such as cartilage, brain and solid tumor, NP may potentially be used to develop the first disease-modifying drugs to treat rare bone cancer, post-traumatic osteoarthritis, and other challenging indications.
• PetTech LLC of Providence will receive $50,000 and will partner with the Biosensing Laboratory at the University of Rhode Island to hone technical specifications for the company's Pet Rover device. This will support the development of the core embedded systems module for navigation and control commands.
• T-Time Productions LLC of Pawtucket will receive $30,000 and will partner with the New England Institute of Technology on animation, gamification and translation for ELL students to enhance the product design of a digital subscription-based curricula it is designing and prototyping. The curricula will support academic excellence in the increasingly diverse K-12 population.
• Vacuum Processing Systems LLC of East Greenwich will receive $50,000 and partner with the University of Rhode Island (URI) to evaluate the capability of its process to clean and sterilize a variety of items from medical devices to orthopedic implants to pharmaceutical equipment at a higher level than current techniques. Testing at URI will also provide manufacturers with a roadmap of testing that should be performed in order to prove safety and efficacy levels needed to receive FDA approval.
To date there have been 28 innovation vouchers awarded for partnerships with 9 knowledge partners. For more information about Innovation Vouchers, visit http://commerceri.com/finance-business/taxes-incentives/innovation-vouchers.