Gov. Gina M. Raimondo opened the second round of the state’s Innovation Voucher Program last week, 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. About $1.5 million in funding is available in the 2016-17 fiscal year, the second year of the program.
“Our state is rapidly emerging as a top hub of innovation and this program will help us keep the momentum going,” the governor said. “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.”
- Applications received by Oct. 28 will be reviewed for funding, and applications received after that date will be reviewed contingent upon available funding.
Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor said the vouchers can be used to help commercialize a new product, process or service; gain access to scientific, engineering and design expertise; and support technological development, exploration, and marketing efforts.
In the initial call for applications, the Commerce Corporation received over $1.4 million in requests from 34 applicants for $500,000 in funding. The recipients represented a variety of industry sectors: aquaculture, defense, advanced manufacturing, biomedical engineering and technology, and pharmaceuticals. The companies used the vouchers to partner with a local university, research center, or medical center for assistance with specific projects.
Jeanine Sinanan-Singh, president of Vitae Industries Inc., Providence, partnered with Brown University. “The Innovation Voucher grant accelerated development of a crucial component of our product,” she said “It gave us unique access to the best possible resources in the field for this type of work.”
The state is also offering 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 carry out programs that strengthen the cluster in areas like R&D, tech transfer, workforce development or marketing.
Another program, the Innovation Network Matching Grants, offers technical assistance, space on flexible terms and/or access to capital to Rhode Island small businesses in key industries (life sciences, health care, food and agriculture, clean technology, energy efficiency, cybersecurity and others as designated). Grants of up to $500,000 are available.
Companies interested in these business incentives can downloan an application from the Commerce Corporation website.