The U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) is accepting applications for its Regional Innovation Grants: Cluster Grants for Seed Capital Funds program.
Grants are available to USA state and local government agencies, non-profits, universities, and others for projects that provide sustainable funding to innovative start-ups (under three years old) that have potential for high growth. Eligible projects will either provide capital to seed-funding programs to be passed on to eligible new businesses or by directly funding eligible businesses.
The EDA will collaborate with the SBA through the evaluation process to ensure the seed capital funding complements other federal economic development programs and does not duplicate existing programs.
Requirements for Cluster Grants for Seed Capital Funds: Funding may be used for technical assistance, feasibility studies, or marketing related to the operation of programs that meet the following criteria:
- Seed capital support for innovation-based, growth-oriented companies: The program must focus on new businesses (generally less than three years old) that are commercializing or using an innovative technology in the development of their product or service. Companies must also have demonstrated potential for high-growth and include performance targets for job creation.
- Plan for Sustainability: Programs must include provisions for sustainability through measures such as taking an equity stake in, or collecting royalties from, the businesses they are supporting.
- Demonstrated ecosystem and down-stream support: Ties into the community are a critical element of success for nascent companies. Successful seed-level funding programs provide for further development of companies they invest in by building and maintaining connections to support organizations such as commercialization centers, incubators and other training programs. Additionally important are connections with down-stream funding sources to support the next phase of growth and capital needs of portfolio companies.
Additional consideration will be given to programs which support innovations in manufacturing and programs that specifically serve businesses with a strong potential to export their goods or services.
Under this FFO, applicants must demonstrate at the time of application a matching share from non-Federal sources. The applicant must show that the matching share will: (i) be committed to the project for the project period, (ii) be available as needed, and (iii) not be conditioned or encumbered in any way that may preclude its use consistent with the requirements of EDA investment assistance. EDA will give preference to applications with higher matching shares, which further leverage Federal funds and help ensure additional project impact.
Strong proposals will have organizations and individual investors submitting letters of intent to invest in the fund if it is not already developed. Strong candidates will have additional connections into the entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem as demonstrated by letters of support from downstream investment sources, commercialization centers, incubators, accelerators, and/or the general business community to support the development of portfolio companies. Additionally, proposals that leverage and complement existing state, local, and non-profit organization programs and initiatives that support innovation and entrepreneurship, such as SBDCs, business incubators, or university programs, etc., will be considered more competitive than those that do not.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to start early and not to wait until the approaching application deadline before logging on and reviewing the instructions for submitting an application through Grants.gov. Applicants should save and print written proof of an electronic submission made at Grants.gov.
Visit the EDA website for more information about this funding opportunity.