RFP Summary provided by the agency
EDA’s Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship is committed to furthering technology-based economic development initiatives that accelerate high quality job growth, create more economic opportunities, and support the future of the next generation of industry leading companies. To advance these goals, EDA awards grants through the Build to Scale Program (formerly the Regional Innovation Strategies Program) for activities designed to develop and support regional innovation initiatives. EDA thereby advances the growth of connected, innovation-centric economies that increase job growth, enable the workforce of tomorrow, enhance global competitiveness, and foster global competitiveness through technology commercialization and entrepreneurship as described in Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 (hereafter “Section 27”).
The Build to Scale Program invites organizations who are aiding companies in developing the next generation of technologies to apply for funding. These organizations may be operating initiatives to unlock investment capital across a region or sector, operating programs to accelerate company growth, empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs, and/or enabling technology commercialization.
Under the Build to Scale Program, EDA is soliciting applications for three separate competitions:
- the Venture Challenge,
The Venture Challenge invites organizations to submit competitive proposals that seek to support entrepreneurship and accelerate company growth in their community, region, or combination of regions. Competitive proposals will outline how the project will strengthen economic competitiveness through new product innovation or new technology adoption, enhancing research commercialization processes and outcomes, remediating structural barriers that inhibit regional innovation capacity and resilience, and/or leveraging regional competitive strengths to stimulate innovation and job creation.
The Venture Challenge is a single competition but is comprised of two funding levels: Build and Scale. Venture Challenge Build applicants may not request more than $750,000 over the three-year period of performance. Venture Challenge Scale applicants must request more than $750,000 and may not request more than $1,500,000 over the three-year period of performance.
- the Capital Challenge,
The Capital Challenge provides operational support for the formation, launch, or scale of investment funds that seek to invest their capital in scalable startups (i.e., venture funds, seed funds, angel funds) or to organizations with a goal to expand capital deployment within a community, region, or regional industry (i.e., angel networks or investor training programs). Funding will primarily support operational and programmatic costs and may not be used as investment capital.
- the Industry Challenge (not included in this NOFO but may return in future notices.)
The minimum required match for both Challenges is 1:1. Applicants must demonstrate at the time of the application a matching share of at least 50 percent of the total project cost; i.e., for every dollar of federal funds requested, applicants must demonstrate a commitment of at least one dollar of matching share.
 Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980, Section 27(a)(2) defines regional innovation initiatives as geographically-bounded public or nonprofit activities or programs that address issues in local innovation systems in order to:
- increase the success of innovation driven industry;
- strengthen the competitiveness of industry through new product innovation and new technology adoption;
- improve the pace of market readiness and overall commercialization of innovative research;
- enhance the overall innovation capacity and long-term resilience of the region;
- leverage the region’s unique competitive strengths to stimulate innovation; and
- increase the number of full-time equivalent employment opportunities within innovation-based business ventures in the geographic region.
What is the mission and focus of the program: research, social, economic or others?
Economic, Social, Innovation
How do you submit to this opportunity?
Apply through Grants.gov
Who are the target applicants: cities, universities, companies, small business, nonprofits, or others?
Eligible applicants for EDA financial assistance under this NOFO include:
An Indian tribe;
A city or other political subdivision of a State;
An entity whose application is supported by a State or a political subdivision of a State and that is—- a nonprofit organization,- an institution of higher education,- a public-private partnership,- a science or research park,- a Federal laboratory, – a venture development organization, or- an economic development organization or similar entity; or
A consortium of any of the immediately aforementioned entities. EDA is not authorized to provide grants or cooperative agreements to individuals under this Program. Requests from individuals will not be considered for funding.
Examples from past awardees
2020 Capital Challenge Awardee: Black and Latino Technology Angel Investment Fund of New Jersey
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Federal Share: $300,000 Local Match:$300,000
The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at Rutgers University (Rutgers CUEED) is a world-class research-driven, teaching and practitioner-oriented entrepreneurship and economic development institute, committed to: 1) catalyzing the economy of the City of Newark (NJ), and other urban centers; 2) creating wealth and jobs; and 3) being a model for all urban universities. Since 2009, Rutgers CUEED has worked across constituencies to create new knowledge, tools and vehicles that build diverse entrepreneurs and thriving urban communities. Rutgers CUEED formed the Black and Latino Angel Investment Fund of New Jersey (the “Angel Fund”) in 2019 and secured $500,000 in commitments from local private investors committed to working with Rutgers University to invest in tech startups and growth companies that are owned by people of color.
The Angel Fund exists to empower entrepreneurs, strengthen communities, invest in inclusive innovation and catalyze next economy growth. Rutgers CUEED will use the grant to scale and support critical functions of the Angel Fund. The B2S Capital Challenge will enable Rutgers CUEED to: 1) recruit additional private sector investors to expand access to early stage risk capital; 2) identify qualified deals and prepare entrepreneurs for investor presentations, 3) enhance investor knowledge, due diligence and legal counsel review, 4) facilitate co-investment and syndication opportunities with other angel investor funds; and 5) assist diverse entrepreneurs to get accepted into accelerator programs to attract additional private capital.
2020 Venture Challenge Awardee: Delaware Innovation Space Inc.
Federal Share: $1,488,083 Local Match: $1,488,083
The Delaware Innovation Space, Inc. (DISI) is the home for science entrepreneurs. In 2017, the State of Delaware, DuPont and the University of Delaware possessed the vision to create a non-profit organization and world-class innovation ecosystem that is now increasing regional business growth and diversification of the local economy. DISI is well positioned to now enhance and expand its program offerings to include the Hard Science Startup Accelerator program co-funded by EDA’s Build to Scale – Venture Challenge program that will be focused on the delivery of intensely focused mentoring, coaching, and training across the full spectrum of the hard science start-up lifecycle.
The dual lack of physical lab space and expert business mentorship and training is an oft-cited hurdle to the ultimate success of budding entrepreneurs in the hard sciences. The Hard Science Startup Accelerator will provide science entrepreneurs with access to structured programs that will improve their business concepts and plans. This combined with the physical assets of DISI which includes a 130,000+ sq. ft. state of the art laboratory/office complex with the amenities of a 21st century physical and virtual collaboration ecosystem will be employed to best assist and equip scalable startups with the tools and expert insights that they need to transform the markets in which they operate. This combined approach will stimulate job creation that will roughly double an incubator only approach and is estimated to create approximately 19,000 jobs over a 20-year time horizon.
Additional Examples: https://www.eda.gov/oie/historical/