EDA Regional Innovation Strategies Grantee RIoT Working to Accelerate the Growth of Internet of Things-focused Companies in North Carolina’s Piedmont Region
EDA’s Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) Program supports innovation and entrepreneurship capacity-building activities by creating and expanding proof-of-concept and commercialization programs and early-stage seed capital funds through the i6 Challenge and the Seed Fund Support (SFS) grant competition.
In North Carolina’s Piedmont region – home of the world-renowned North Carolina Research Triangle - the RIoT (Regional Internet of Things) RIoT Accelerator Program (RAP) - and its ecosystem partners and stakeholders - are driving innovation and commercialization of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.
Funded in part by a $500,000 i6 Challenge investment made in the 2017 RIS round, the RAP is facilitating entrepreneurship end-to-end from academic research and education through to rapid commercial growth by providing access to the technology services industry and seed investor capital necessary to launch new products and services to market.
Among the first participants in the RIoT Accelerator Program’s cohort of 10 diverse IoT companies, are a startup created out of NC State, a spin out from a local sustainability nonprofit, an experienced entrepreneur’s sixth venture based on acquired IP, and a corporate skunkworks team.
Aeva Labs, founded by recent NC State graduates Steven Guido and Zach Fearnside, speeds up the aging process of alcohol 100x with no added chemicals, eliminating the bottleneck that aging presents in the production process and introducing creative new product opportunities for craft distillers.
Green To Go, a reusable takeout box system currently implemented in 25 Durham, NC restaurants, is rolling out containers enabled with RFID location tracking and data analytics. Founders Crystal Dreisbach and Amy Eller are scaling their reusables to other closed-loop systems such as sports stadiums and municipalities.
Booth Kalmbach is leveraging RAP to accelerate his sixth venture, using emerging RAIN RFID technology to build Trilliott, a service for businesses to track everyday things to solve the asset accuracy problem of not having visibility into what they have and where.
The RAP also supports corporate companies. SecurEdge Networks, a Charlotte-based wifi-as-a-service company, placed a team into the accelerator to test a new hardware product offering—a wifi performance monitoring sensor.
Together these ventures exemplify the broad applications of IoT and immense value creation and new market opportunities that IoT presents.
The RAP has improved efficiencies and has enabled RIoT to work with more companies. According the RIoT, the RAP is ultimately expected to help create 96 new startups, spur 200 new jobs, and generate more than $10 million in private investments.
A recent WRAL Tech Wire story outlines how RIoT is positioning North Carolina as a global IoT center of excellence and the RAP’s 1st pitch night event, which will take place on August 21, in Raleigh, will further showcase the impact of the IoT sector on the local economy.
As of November 2017, $42 million in EDA RIS i6 Challenge competition investments have been matched by $54 million in local funds to assist over 1,400 entrepreneurs and innovators who have created an estimated 2,000 jobs.
During the same period, $10 million in RIS Seed Fund Support competition investments have been matched by $13 million in local funding, resulting in $50 million in seed capital funding being raised and 142 investments - totaling $20 million - being made in early stage companies.
On May 31, EDA announced the availability of up to $21 million through RIS 2018 (PDF). The closing date for applications is August 29. Get your applications in today! 2018 RIS grantees are expected to be announced in the fall.