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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce
Funding Opportunities Background

Office of Innovation and
Entrepreneurship (OIE)

University of Connecticut


Storrs, Connecticut

Project Name

Quiet Corner Innovation Cluster (QCIC)



Award Amount

$500,000 for Quiet Corner Innovation Cluster (QCIC)

The Quiet Corner Innovation Cluster (QCIC) will create an innovation network to drive economic development in rural Eastern Connecticut. Comprised of New London, Tolland, and Windham counties, Connecticut’s Quiet Corner has been adversely impacted by high unemployment rates, stemming in large part from the stagnation or demise of legacy manufacturers. The growth and employment potential of small and medium-sized technology and manufacturing enterprises (SMEs) is essential to the regional economy. Even though many eastern Connecticut SMEs have had strong traditional skills, processes, or products, rapid advances in technology have made many of these core assets obsolete.

The QCIC leverages the University of Connecticut (UConn)’s extensive science and technology resources, including innovation and entrepreneurship infrastructure through the UConn Technology Park. Other partners include Connecticut Innovations (CI), the leading source of financing and ongoing support for Connecticut’s innovative, growing companies, and a regional alliance of SMEs.

The QCIC will partner with SMEs to promote business growth through innovation, enhanced R&D, and updated business capabilities. SMEs are strong contributors to regional economies, but are typically under-served by public and private innovation investments. The QCIC will build the innovation capacity of SMEs that show the potential to grow through technology advancement. As part of the QCIC, a new Proof of Concept Center (POCC) will be established to leverage commercialization and R&D resources at UConn to co-develop new products and services. The POCC will implement an SME Engagement Process (SMEEP) to develop targeted growth plans and manufacturing innovation strategies that increase SMEs’ technology-based manufacturing capabilities, lead to competitive products and services, stimulate direct job growth, and promote economic development. The POCC will also serve as a supply chain hub for connecting SMEs with major regional equipment manufacturers.

By five years after grant end, the QCIC targets attainment of the following key outcomes: a cumulative addition of almost 2,500 direct jobs for the region, support for 50 SMEs; and millions of dollars in private investment.