Economic Development Administration Announces Major Opportunities for Innovators and Entrepreneurs

By: TNJ STAFF
Thursday, May 5, 2016

This week, EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) is excited to announce major developments in two of its core initiatives:

    •    Beginning May 2, 2016, OIE is soliciting applications for appointment to the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE) for its next term.  The application period will close at 11:59pm Eastern Time on June 1, 2016.


•    On May 5, 2016, OIE staff will present details of and take questions about the 2016 Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) Program Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO).  The application period is currently open and will close at 11:59pm Eastern Time on June 24, 2016.

And according to Joset Wright-Lacy, President of the National Minority Supplier Development Council, the minority business community should get on board. “Forward-thinking minority entrepreneurs should look hard at and consider making application to take advantage of these two opportunities from the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” Wright-Lacy told TNJ Senior Editor Sergie Willoughby in an exclusive interview.

National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE)

On May 2, 2016, EDA opened the application period for NACIE’s 2016-2018 term.  Applications are due by 11:59pm Eastern Time on June 1, 2016.  NACIE supports Federal innovation strategy by advising the Secretary of Commerce on policies and programs that foster entrepreneurship and by identifying new ways to take ideas from the lab to the marketplace to drive economic growth and create jobs.  NACIE’s efforts have spanned areas from access to capital (which helped lead to the JOBS Act) to innovation and entrepreneurship at universities (supported by 142 U.S. leading universities), from the SBIR/STTR programs to the gig economy, and beyond.

Application details can be found in EDA’s Federal Register Notice.

Says Wright-Lacy, “The first opportunity offers an essential role in guiding one of the OIE’s initiatives: the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which advises the Secretary of Commerce. Two facts: minority business ownership is expanding at a faster rate than non-majority, and within a few decades the U.S. will no longer have a “majority” — minorities will comprise more than 50% of the population. Now is the time for a minority voice to provide balanced perspective on matters important to minority entrepreneurs and innovators in the areas of capital access, supplier development, and diversity and inclusion in commerce and community, critical to the transition to a “minority-majority” economic base.”

Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) Program

EDA recently released its Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) for the 2016 round of Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) Program funding.  The application period is currently open and will close at 11:59pm Eastern Time on June 24, 2016.

EDA strongly encourages potential applicants to register for and attend its post-launch webinar on May 5, 2016, at 2:00pm Eastern Time.  During this webinar, EDA staff will present a detailed overview of the 2016 RIS FFO and will take questions from attendees.  If you are unable to attend, this webinar will be recorded and made available online.

This year, a total of $15 million in Federal funding is available to create and expand cluster-focused proof-of-concept and commercialization programs and early-stage seed capital funds through the i6 Challenge and the Seed Fund Support (SFS) Grant competition, respectively.  Under this FFO, $13 million is available for i6 Challenge grants and $2 million is available for SFS grants.

“The second opportunity is straight-forward — funding is available (through the Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovation Strategies program) to aid early-stage startups and programs that stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship, with the ultimate aim of creating jobs. It is a chance to build stable communities around a successful business model. For any minority business owner with a plan for commercial development of an “idea whose time has come,” this is a chance to secure capital funding, which as many of you know is often all too hard to come by. Again – now is the time – seize the opportunity!” she concludes.