U.S. Economic Development Administration - Innovate@EDA Monthly Update U.S. Department of Commerce homepage Innovate@EDA Monthly Newletter Archive U.S. Economic Development Administration homepage

December 2018

Spotlight: EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Advancing American Business through the Regional Innovation Strategies Program

EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) leads the Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) Program that builds regional capacity by translating innovations into jobs through proof-of-concept and commercialization assistance for innovators and entrepreneurs, and through operational support for organizations that provide essential early-stage risk capital to innovators and entrepreneurs.

i6 Challenge Infographic

Click image for larger version

There are two funding opportunities through the RIS program. The i6 Challenge supports the creation of centers for innovation and entrepreneurship that increase the rate at which innovations, ideas, intellectual property, and research are translated into products, services, viable companies, and jobs. The second is the Seed Fund Support (SFS) Program, which provides funding for technical assistance and operational support to create, launch, or expand equity-based, cluster-focused seed funds that invest risk capital into high-growth potential startups. SFS awardees are working to grow new venture funds, support the expansion of angel investor networks, and even educate new investors what it takes to invest in high-tech, high-growth startups.

On December 4, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that 40 organizations — including nonprofits, institutions of higher education, and entrepreneurship-focused organizations from 28 states and two territories states received $21 million to create and expand cluster-focused proof-of-concept and commercialization programs, and early-stage seed fund support under the 2018 RIS program competition. Read the announcement on the EDA press page.

The pilot fund was successful, making $865,000 worth of investments in seven early-stage companies and creating and retaining 156 jobs. It proved that CEI’s mission-driven model to create quality jobs, environmentally sustainable businesses, and shared prosperity could create viable investment returns for growth-focused investors.

In addition to funding natural-resource businesses in rural areas, CEI created means of supporting business and continuing the mission of the fund. They built a menu of statewide business technical assistance options to support fund clients, which leverages existing resources to help businesses expand and develop future strategies. They have also developed a curriculum on using equity financing and are offering training to potential clients in the natural resources sector. With lessons from this first seed fund, CEI is now fundraising for their next seed fund, while continuing to cultivate a pipeline of potential investors.

Click here to read more.

Success Story: i6 Challenge Awardee mHub, Driving the Chicago Region’s Hardware Innovation Sector

In 2016, EDA awarded an i6 Challenge grant to mHub, Chicago, to help them realize their vision of becoming a full-scale technology incubator with a primary focus on physical product development and hardware innovation for manufacturers and entrepreneurs.

mHub Chicago

The $500,000 EDA i6 investment was matched by $759,196 in cash, in-kind equipment, and labor, and gave mHub the capacity to expand across the Chicagoland area’s manufacturing sector.

mHub is achieving its goals by building out its network of maker spaces and fabrication labs to foster an ecosystem that enables manufacturers to develop technical solutions to their product and process challenges. Specifically, the goals of this EDA project include facilitating entrepreneurship, collaboration, and innovation; educating diverse populations in manufacturing; positioning mHub as “the” manufacturing innovation incubator for the region; and supporting members with resources to scale their businesses. These goals are helping their members along the continuum of product development, from concept to scale into the market.

Click here to read more.

Highlight: How Seed Funding is Helping Americans Invest in Rural Innovation: Food, Farms and Fisheries

Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), a Maine-based, private non-profit Community Development Corporation and Community Development Finance Institution received EDA RIS Seed Fund Support in 2015 to drive investments in food, farm, fisheries, and bio-based businesses. The fund’s purpose is broader than the usual venture fund. This is a social venture fund that provides needed capital for rural businesses and creates jobs for rural economies. The fund generates a return for investors, adds value to Maine-grown products, and leverages powerful market-level change in the food system and other natural resource-based economies.

Coastal Enterprises Inc. Logo

CEI has a 40-year history of significant impacts on the Maine economy and is responsible for over $1.30 billion in business investments across the state. However, until recently, most of these investments were made as traditional small business loans through their revolving loan fund, and other debt investment vehicles. Through this experience, CEI staff saw an opportunity to better support some of the higher-growth natural resource businesses that were not a fit for regular business loans. With a 2015 Seed Fund Support grant from EDA, and in partnership with the Maine Center for Business and Economic Research, CEI studied and evaluated a number of equity investment models that might work to support their target business profile. With this research in place, CEI launched a pilot program with a small, discrete group of funders and investors to test an equity-based seed fund model before taking it public.

Click here to read more.

Facebook Twitter Linked In

National Entrepreneurship Month 2018

White House Logo

In November, we celebrated National Entrepreneurship Month, which showcases one of our Nation's proudest qualities: our innovative, hardworking, entrepreneurial spirit. American entrepreneurs invent and sell fascinating and endlessly useful new products and services, creating millions of jobs and driving American global leadership along the way. Read President Trump’s full proclamation.


Celebrating Native American History: Ground Broken on Oglala Lakota Artspace Project

EDA DAS-RA Alvord, (c) breaks ground on the Artspace project with leaders from the Oglala Lakota Tribe, Lakota Funds, Artspace, and The First Peoples Fund

EDA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs Dennis Alvord was recently honored to deliver remarks at the groundbreaking for the Oglala Lakota Artspace project. The project will provide critical space for artisan entrepreneurs and offer business services to new and emerging artisans on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.


Regional Economic Diversification Summit: City of Weirton, W. Va.

REDS event in Weirton, West Virginia

Instead of a “Washington-knows-best” approach, Regional Economic Diversification Summits (REDS) are designed to respond directly to locally identified economic development strategies and priorities. The latest REDS was held in late October in Weirton, West Virginia. The conference focus was on future development in downtown Weirton, the Three Springs Business Park, and the 1,100 acres owned by Frontier. It was the first summit of its kind to be held within a 200-mile radius of the area.


Treasury Releases Proposed Regulations on Opportunity Zones Designed to Incentivize Investment in American Communities

The Treasury Department has issued proposed guidance related to the new Opportunity Zone tax incentive. The tax benefit, created by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, is designed to spur economic development and job creation by encouraging long-term investments in economically distressed communities nationwide.


Commerce Department, NOAA Provide Essential Services When Disaster Strikes

In October, The Post and Courier published an op-ed by Secretary Wilbur Ross on the services the Commerce Department provides following a natural disaster.


EDA in the News!

Extra, Extra! graphic

Trump is keeping his promises to forgotten coal communities
Lexington Herald Leader (11/15/2018)

Commerce Department, NOAA provide essential services when disaster strikes
The Post and Courier (10/29/2018)

Rural Innovation Initiative aims to help small towns get funding for remote work spaces
Venturebeat.com (11/16/2018)

School of Business entrepreneurship program recognized by Princeton Review ...
KU Today (11/15/2018)

Wallace State breaks ground on new technical education center for welding and entrepreneurship
The Cullman Tribune (11/9/2018)

Port Aransas awarded $5 million grant for Hurricane Harvey recovery
3kiiitv South Texas (10/31/2018)

Weirton’s future is explored at summit
The Daily Times (10/30/2018)

International and national leaders visit the Valley during Americas Competitiveness Exchange Program
abc30.com (9/20/2018)

www.eda.gov image