EDA Announces Latest i6 Challenge, Seed Fund Support Grants

seed augU.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced $10 million in funding opportunities through the Economic Development Administration’s 2015 Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) Program.


The i6 Challenge funds organizations that help innovators and entrepreneurs turn innovations, ideas, intellectual property, and research into viable, sustainable companies, and Seed Fund Support Grants which funds regionally-focused seed capital funds that provide early-stage capital to innovation-based startups with a potential for high growth.


“As America’s Innovation Agency, the Commerce Department is committed to supporting the innovators and job creators of tomorrow” said Secretary Pritzker. “The Regional Innovation Strategies Program competition will build the capacity for innovation and entrepreneurship in regions all across America and ultimately strengthen our nation’s competitiveness.”


EDA’s 2014 i6 and Seed Fund Support Grant awardees were announced in March 2015. Seventeen organizations received i6 Challenge grants ranging from $148,600 to $500,000 while nine others received Seed Fund Support Grants ranging from $71,625 to $250,000.


This year’s program includes $10 million in funding for the following programs:

  • i6 Challenge ($8M): Launched in 2010 as part of the Startup America Initiative, the i6 Challenge is a national competition based on the most impactful national models for startup creation, innovation, and commercialization. In an effort to promote and support inclusion, EDA expects to award up to $2.5 million of the total $8 million to projects that provide services to rural areas, and applicants who create specific outreach plans to populations and communities that are underrepresented in innovation and entrepreneurship. Projects that propose specific, quantitative metrics to measure the effectiveness of those plans will receive special consideration.

  • Seed Fund Support Grants ($2M): These cluster grants provide funding for technical assistance to support feasibility, planning, formation, or launch of cluster-based seed capital funds that are offered to innovation-based, growth-oriented start-up companies in exchange for equity. Funds must include job creation in their consideration for issuing capital, and funds that reach out to underrepresented communities and populations and measure the effectiveness of that outreach will receive special consideration.

Applicants are encouraged to refer to the Federal Funding Opportunity for examples of both the i6 Challenge and Seed Fund Support Grants. There is no requirement for applicants to submit proposals for more than one of the funding opportunities under this program. Funding for both programs is available to all communities regardless of level of distress.

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