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Obama Administration Launches $6 Million i6 Challenge to Promote Innovation, Commercialization and Proof of Concept Centers

Third round of competition to spur high growth entrepreneurship


WASHINGTON - The Obama Administration today announced the third round of the i6 Challenge to promote American innovation, foster entrepreneurship, and increase the commercialization of ideas into viable companies. The $6 million competition funds Proof of Concept Centers and creates a network of experts to support innovators and researchers; spur sustainable startups, small businesses, and new ventures; expand access to capital to fuel growth; connect mentors and advisors to entrepreneurs; and spark job creation.

"Most new jobs are created in start-ups and small businesses, and innovation is the driver," said Acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine. "The i6 Challenge will reward innovative concepts for Proof of Concept Centers that can accelerate innovation from 'lab to market' of breakthrough technologies and unleash business opportunities in new industries."

Six winning teams will be awarded up to $1 million each for innovative proposals to create and expand Proof of Concept Centers, such as the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the William J. von Liebig Center at the University of California, San Diego, and the Stevens Institute for Innovation at the University of Southern California. These centers incorporate a range of services-from technology and market evaluation, through business planning and mentorship, and on to early-stage access to capital.

"It is entrepreneurs in clean energy, medicine, advanced manufacturing, information technology, and other innovative fields who will build the new industries of the 21st century, and solve some of our toughest global challenges," Erskine added. "The investments made through the i6 Challenge are translating into new jobs in every part of the country and in every industry, helping to make ours an economy that's built to last."

The application deadline is July 20, 2012. Details are available here. Awards will be announced September 2012. The competition is being led by the U.S. Commerce Department Economic Development Administration's Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. They lead efforts to promote innovation-based, high-growth entrepreneurship, develops policy recommendations, and implements initiatives to commercialize technology developed through university and federally funded research.

The Obama administration has unveiled several new agency actions to speed up the growth of young, job-creating companies, at the same time that new entrepreneur-led regional coalitions are launching throughout the nation. Last year, President Obama called on both the federal government and the private sector to dramatically increase the prevalence and success of entrepreneurs across the country, leading to the roll out of the White House Startup America initiative and the Startup America Partnership by leaders in the private sector.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.