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Spotlight: EDA Launches the Build to Scale Program, a Redesign of its Regional Innovation Strategies Program

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On February 19, during National Entrepreneurship Week (February 15-22), EDA announced the launch of its redesigned Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program. The redesigned program, now called Build to Scale (B2S), builds regional economies through scalable startups. The modernized brand reflects the spirit of the entrepreneurship communities it serves.

Congress has appropriated $33 million for the RIS program in FY20, and EDA has designed a streamlined application process to better address growing demand. The increased funding and improved application process will enable EDA to reach more communities and scale the impacts of the program.

Applications for the 2020 competition are now being accepted!

The Build to Scale Program supports regional economic growth through three separate competitions:

  1. The Venture Challenge, formerly known as the “i6 Challenge,” makes $26 million available to support entrepreneurship and accelerate company growth in communities, regions or combinations of regions. The Venture Challenge awards grants to intermediary organizations like accelerators, universities, and non-profits supporting new business ventures that are:
    • scalable by nature,
    • challenging the status quo of markets,
    • commercializing technologies, and;
    • furthering job creation

  2. The Capital Challenge, formerly known as “Seed Fund Support,” makes $5 million available to increase access to capital in communities where risk capital is in short supply. The Capital Challenge provides operational support for:
    • the formation, launch, or scale of investment funds that seek to invest their capital in scalable startups
    • organizations with a goal to expand capital deployment within a community, region, or regional industry (i.e. angel networks or investor training programs)

  3. The new Industry Challenge makes $4 million available to support entrepreneurship and accelerate company growth within the Blue Economy. The FY20 Industry Challenge is produced and co-funded in partnership with the Department of Energy. The Blue Economy is generally defined as sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, while preserving the health of marine ecosystems. For this solicitation, the definition is broadened to include both freshwater and marine activities. The Industry Challenge will award grants to organizations that are:
    • supporting commercialization of blue economy technologies
    • improving competitiveness of blue economy startups
    • increasing connectivity and collaboration between blue economy stakeholders
    • leveraging the blue economy to support innovation and job creation

EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) leads the Build to Scale Program, which is authorized under Section 27 of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 (15 U.S.C. § 3722).

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