The Obama Administration today announced the six winners of the i6 Green Challenge, an initiative to drive technology commercialization and entrepreneurship in support of a green innovation economy, increased U.S. competitiveness and new jobs.
Projects in Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, New England and Washington will each receive up to $1 million from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and up to $6 million in additional funding and technical assistance from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, and Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology and United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Winning i6 Green applicants will support emerging technology-based businesses as they mature and demonstrate their market potential, making them more attractive to investors and helping entrepreneurs turn their ideas and innovations into businesses.
“America’s economy depends on both innovation and commercialization,” U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra said. “These six proof-of-concept centers will help to accelerate the commercialization of products based on exciting new research and support the development of green jobs in regions across the country.”
First announced at the White House launch of Startup America in January, i6 Green follows last year’s inaugural i6 Challenge, which focused on accelerating high-growth entrepreneurship in the United States. This year’s competition focuses on promoting Proof of Concept Centers methodologies, which support all aspects of the entrepreneurship process, from assisting with technology feasibility and business plan development, to providing access to early-stage capital and mentors that can offer critical guidance to innovators.
As one Kauffman Foundation study pointed out, venture capitalists are more frequently investing in later-stage enterprises, so researchers sometimes find it difficult to get early-stage funding to do the necessary research and development of their ideas. Proof of concept centers, such as the Deshpande Center at MIT, help try to bridge that gap. They facilitate the transfer of research into innovative activity and products and services for the marketplace.
As Venture Capitalists move downstream toward later-stage deals, it is more important than ever to invest in efforts that validate the technical and commercial viability of early stage companies. This includes expanding early stage access to capital.
“i6 Green is an important part of President Obama’s Startup America initiative to promote entrepreneurship and spur small business development,” Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes said. “These six projects will help to foster growth in green technologies and create jobs for America’s workers.”
“By supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs to accelerate innovative clean energy technologies into the marketplace, we will strengthen U.S. competitiveness and promote economic development across the country,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “The challenge winners announced today will help accelerate the next generation of clean energy innovations from research and development in the lab to wide commercial availability – where they can save consumers energy and money.”
“We congratulate the organizations and entrepreneurs who came together to form these vibrant public-private partnerships in an effort to promote new green technologies and green jobs in the United States,” Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank said. “These investments will help boost U.S. competitiveness and better position the nation to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.”
The winning projects of the i6 Green Challenge announced today include:
- Ames, Iowa: Iowa Innovation Network i6 Green Project
- Holland, Michigan: Proof of Concept Center for Green Chemistry Scale-up
- New England: iGreen New England Partnership
- Orlando, Florida: Igniting Innovation (I2) Cleantech Acceleration Network
- Ruston, Louisiana: Louisiana Tech Proof of Concept Center
- Washington State: Washington Clean Energy Partnership Project
For more information on i6 Green and the winners announced today, click here.