EDA Adds $5 Million to i6 Challenge Competition

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The U.S. Economic Development Administration added an extra $5 million to its i6 Challenge for 2016 -- bringing the total dollars available through the program to $13 million. The i6 Challenge competition helps regions build capacity through creation and expansion of cluster-focused proof-of-concept and commercialization programs. 

The proof-of-concept programs work with very early stage innovations, ideas, intellectual property, and research while the commercialization programs focus more on later stages. Both "function as critical nodes for translating cutting-edge innovation into high-growth entrepreneurship in their regions." 

Successful applications demonstrate the ability to develop a large number of high-growth entrepreneurs within a region and that create an ecosystem in which those entrepreneurs can experiment with and can create businesses and jobs from their innovations by:

  • Supporting educational programs or work experiences to prepare students and researchers for entrepreneurial challenges and work environments; and
  • Growing innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems to ensure a steady stream of high-growth startups that drive job and value creation in the primary service area, community, and region.

Other factors include impact on regional innovation, connectivity and commercialization of research. 

The i6 program was launched in 2010 as part of the White House’s Startup America initiative and is part of the EDA's larger Regional Innovation Strategies program which also includes $2 million in grants for Seed Fund Support. 

The SFS 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 startups in exchange for equity. Funds must include job creation in their consideration for issuing capital, and the evaluation criteria for applications include the strength of specific outreach plans to populations and communities that are underrepresented in innovation and entrepreneurship and of specific, quantitative metrics to measure the effectiveness of that outreach. 

The deadline for applications is Friday, June 24, 2016. To learn more about this year’s Regional Innovation Strategies program, EDA strongly encourages potential applicants to register for and attend the post-launch webinar, hosted by SSTI, on May 5, 2016, at 2:00pm Eastern Time.  During this webinar, EDA staff will present a detailed overview of the 2016 RIS FFO and will take questions.  This webinar will be made available online after the event.

Photo Credit: Flickr

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