Jump to main content.


This site contains information that has been considered archived and will no longer be updated. Please click here to go to the CURRENT eda.gov website.

A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce


Press Release

U.S. Commerce Department Announces $1 Million Investment to Spur Technology Commercialization and Small Business Development in Charlottesville, Virginia

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank Announces Virginia Innovation Partnership as Winner of National Competition to Promote American Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Job Creation

WASHINGTON - Acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank today announced a $1 million investment to spur job growth and economic development in Virginia during a visit to Charlottesville. Blank announced the Virginia Innovation Partnership will receive these funds as a winner of the Obama administration's third round of the i6 Challenge, a national competition to advance innovative product development, increase the commercialization of ideas into viable companies, spur the formation of start-ups and small businesses, and create jobs.

The i6 initiative accomplishes these goals by supporting Proof of Concept Centers at universities and research consortiums across the country, which are helping to jumpstart the production of emerging technologies and revolutionize manufacturing processes.

"This $1 million investment for Virginia announced today is an example of the Obama administration's commitment to driving U.S. innovation and competitiveness in the decade ahead," said Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank. "The Department of Commerce's i6 Challenge is designed to encourage Americans who want to take risks with game-changing ideas, speed their innovations to marketplace, and thereby empower the next generation of job creators that are so essential for an economy that is built to last."

This year's winning projects - based in California, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Virginia, and Wisconsin - will each receive up to $1 million to fund Proof of Concept Centers at universities and research consortiums that will create networks of experts to support innovators and researchers, expand access to capital, and connect mentors and advisors to entrepreneurs and small businesses.

The Virginia Innovation Partnership is a collaboration between the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, SRI International and a diverse team spanning the state. The project links six planning district containing economically distressed regions, 10 research universities, five community colleges, more than 15 corporate partners as well as 10 incubators, economic development agencies and crowd-funding organizations. VIP will engage with faculty and researchers from the three academic institutions to identify ideas and innovations that have commercial applications. The partnership will then help those researchers develop the business model, select the market, and assemble a team of entrepreneurs, investors and supporters that are able to bring these innovations to market and make them a success.

According to estimates from VIP, the Proof of Concept Center will create 140 jobs over two years, 640 jobs after four years and 2,000 new jobs after eight years.

Launched in 2010 as a component of the White House's Startup America initiative, the i6 Challenge is led by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The office leads efforts to promote innovation-based, high-growth entrepreneurship, develops policy recommendations, and implements initiatives to commercialize technology developed through university and federally-funded research.

Applications for the competition were evaluated by selection committees made up of industry and public sector leaders, and academics. Additionally, EDA's regional offices conducted technical, merit, and investment reviews based on the agency's funding criteria. A panel of experts, in partnership with the National Science Foundation, made recommendations for finalists.

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.