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 Secretary Penny Pritzker Announces Competition for $10 Million in Grants to Advance Innovation

2015 Regional Innovation Strategies Program to Spur Capacity Building and Access to Capital for Innovators and Entrepreneurs

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced the launch of the Economic Development Administration's (EDA) $10 million funding opportunity for the 2015 Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) Program competition to spur innovation capacity-building activities in regions across the nation. Under this program, EDA is soliciting applications for two funding opportunities: the i6 Challenge, which funds organizations that help innovators and entrepreneurs turn innovations, ideas, intellectual property, and research into viable, sustainable companies, and Seed Fund Support Grants (previously Cluster Grants for Seed Capital Funds), which funds regionally-focused seed capital funds that provide early-stage capital to innovation-based startups with a potential for high growth. This is the second RIS competition; EDA's 2014 i6 and Seed Fund Support Grant awardees were announced in March 2015.

"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."

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 (FFO) 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.

Eligibility, matching-fund requirements, application and submission deadlines, and other information can be found in the FFO for the program.

In the coming weeks, EDA will conduct a webinar to discuss the 2015 RIS Program FFO. Interested parties should check the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship website for forthcoming details.

Launched in 2014, the Regional Innovation Strategies Program started under the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act of 2010. The 2014 grantees have begun to kick off the activities outlined in their applications. For more information on the Regional Innovation Strategies Program, visit: http://www.eda.gov/oie/ris/.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The Economic Development Administration marks 50 years of public service, leading 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.