NIH & NSF Entering a New Line of Business

Funding it, that is, as part of the new i6 Challenge.

I couldn’t possibly describe this program better than the full announcement:

The i6 Challenge is a new, multi-agency innovation competition led by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and its Economic Development Administration (EDA). The DOC and EDA will coordinate this funding opportunity with the NIH, the NSF, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to leverage federal resources and maximize available funding to i6 Challenge winners.

The i6 Challenge is designed to encourage and reward innovative, ground-breaking ideas that will accelerate technology commercialization and new venture formation across the United States, for the ultimate purpose of helping to drive economic growth and job creation.

To accomplish this, the i6 Challenge targets sections of the research-to-deployment continuum that are in need of additional support, in order to strengthen regional innovation ecosystems. Applicants to the i6 Challenge are expected to propose mechanisms to fill in existing gaps in the continuum or leverage existing infrastructure and institutions, such as economic development organizations, academic institutions, or other non-profit organizations, in new and innovative ways to achieve the i6 objectives.

Applicants are also expected to leverage regional strengths, capabilities, and competitive advantages. Furthermore, they are expected to identify a real or persistent problem or an unaddressed opportunity with a sense of urgency, cultivate strong public-private partnerships, provide a credible plan to access resources, demonstrate how the effort will be sustained, and bring together a well-qualified team and partners.

EDA intends to fund implementation grants for technical assistance through its Economic Adjustment Assistance Program under the i6 Challenge.

EDA will make at least 6 awards of up to $1M – one in each of its 6 regions. EDA can only fund proposals in an area that, on the date of application, meets one (or more) of the following economic distress criteria: 1. An unemployment rate that is, for the most recent 24-month period for which data are available, at least one percentage point greater than the national average unemployment rate; 2. Per capita income that is, for the most recent period for which data are available, 80% or less of the national average per capita income; or 3. Has a “Special Need,” as determined by EDA.

Successful Applicants who are NIH SBIR Grantees with an active SBIR grant as of October 2010 are eligible for up to $500K in supplemental awards.

Successful Applicants who are NSF SBIR Grantees with an active SBIR grant as of July 15, 2010 are eligible for up to $100K (individual) to $500K (collective) in supplemental awards.

USPTO will provide customized intellectual property seminars to entrepreneurs and innovators associated with the winning Applicants.

Applicants must demonstrate a Matching Share of at least $500K, which must be available and committed to the project from non-federal sources. EDA will give preference to applications with higher Matching Shares and to applications with higher levels of cash contributions in their Matching Share.

Strongly recommended letters of intent are due June 15th – full applications due July 15th.

Questions? I can’t imagine … but there will be a conference call on Monday, May 17, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. EDT.

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