PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee and the Board of Directors for Rhode Island Commerce last night approved five Innovation Vouchers and five Innovation Network Matching Grants. With these awards, there have now been 110 Innovation Voucher recipients and 36 Innovation Network Matching Grant recipients, totaling an investment of $8.9 million. These awards have had a return of $17.2 million in new investment for Rhode Island companies since the program’s inception.
“Rhode Island has such strong momentum because our small businesses are leading the way. This round of award recipients is a shining example of what is possible when we invest in businesses and organizations with vision,” said Governor McKee. “From Xmark Labs developing technology to improve energy efficiency, to Hope & Main expanding to empower more aspiring food-preneurs, these programs are enabling important growth all across Rhode Island.”
The Innovation Voucher program is designed to help spur innovation in the local economy by funding up to $50,000 for research and development. The program pairs small Rhode Island businesses with local knowledge partners like colleges, universities, and hospitals. Manufacturers may also use vouchers for internal R&D.
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 Network Matching Grant program is designed to allow third-party organizations to expand their efforts to offer technical assistance, space on flexible terms, and/or access to capital to Rhode Island small businesses in key industries. They require at least a 50 percent match from the applicant.
“The Innovation Voucher and the Innovation Network Matching Grants are two important tools for business development across our state,” said Commerce Secretary Liz Tanner. “Our message is that Rhode Island wants to help your business innovate and thrive. Groundbreaking R&D isn’t just happening in Silicon Valley, and this round of award recipients is proof that innovative expansion is taking place right here in the Ocean State. Congratulations to our awardees!”
Innovation Voucher Awards:
Avocet LLC’s | $50,000 | Brown University Knowledge Provider | Avocet LLC will work with the School of Engineering at Brown University to conduct a wind tunnel study and to study the computer fluid dynamics of Avocet’s blade design to optimize the design for functionality.
Xmark Labs, LLC | $49,934 | Manufacturing Voucher | The proposed project focuses on Nosy™, a building efficiency sensor designed for retrofits in commercial buildings. Nosy provides building environment and usage data that helps building operators improve energy efficiency, monitor indoor air quality and streamline day to day operations. The project will support three elements critical to commercialization: injection mold tooling, related approvals, and the purchase of key long lead time components.
Flux Marine Ltd. | $50,000 | Manufacturing Voucher | The project will leverage technology from the company’s recently developed electric outboard motors and apply them to a new type of propulsion product. This product will allow Flux Marine to enter new markets and accelerate the global transition towards sustainable transportation.
A-Team Coastal, LLC (d/b/a Rhody Wild Sea Gardens) (RWSG) | $50,000 | University of Rhode Island Knowledge Provider | RWSG harvests and sells sugar kelp. The goal of this project is to test the product development of animal feed with the inclusion of sugar kelp. The infrastructure, analyses, expertise at URI, and resources will build the foundation and launch point for RWSG manufacturing and selling this new animal feed in Rhode Island.
Fulford Manufacturing Company | $50,000 | Manufacturing Voucher | Fulford Manufacturing has been presented with a significant opportunity for a new electric vehicle part that will inevitably lead to a whole new category of parts in the electric vehicle market. To launch this program, outside expertise for new tooling and a higher tonnage press is needed.
Innovation Network Matching Grants:
Town Made (Wakefield, RI) | $60,000 | Town Made is a co-production facility for food entrepreneurs in South County. It is presently at capacity with its food storage and food cooling, limiting the number of entrepreneurial ventures it can serve. This grant will provide “space on flexible terms” by supporting additional freezer and fridge space to food businesses that use the Town Made space.
Hope & Main (Warren, RI) | $60,000 | Hope & Main has opened a new location in Providence’s West End, which will significantly increase access to affordable, shared use kitchens and proven, specialized incubation and technical assistance to empower aspiring food-preneurs from underserved communities in Greater Providence and throughout Rhode Island to launch and grow successful food businesses that are the foundation for a more just, sustainable, and resilient local food economy.
Social Enterprise Greenhouse (SEG) (Providence, RI) | $100,000 | This grant will expand access to SEG’s microgrant fund, available to businesses throughout the state. The microgrant fund will award grants of up to $5,000 to small businesses in Rhode Island with budgets under $250,000 to support things like: entity formation, certification, technology needs, legal support, or space for community events.
Olneyville Housing Corp. / ONE Neighborhood Builders (Providence, RI) | $98,125 | ONE Neighborhood Builders (One NB) will use the grant to expand the work of their recently launched Biz Bodega—a centralized hub for small business support and resources located in Central Providence. Additionally, funding will increase community engagement efforts for their Central Providence Community Loan Fund (CPCLF) and expand the capacity of the CPCLF loan committee.
DESIGNxRI (Providence, RI) | $75,000 | DESIGNxRI is a nonprofit economic development organization that creates an opportunity-driven environment for RI designers, design businesses, and the design sector to thrive. The funding will be used to expand the reach of their Design Catalyst program, a competitive grant program providing seed capital, business mentorship, professional development training, and peer-to-peer networking to help design businesses reach their growth goals.