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Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) Program

Grants to USA Nonprofits, Municipalities,
IHEs and Tribes for Entrepreneurship Projects

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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US Economic Development Administration (EDA) - Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE)

Deadline Date:

08/29/18 11:59 PM EST


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Grants to USA nonprofit organizations, local, special district, and state municipalities, public and private IHEs, and tribes for collaborative entrepreneurship projects. Funding is intended for initiatives that aim to convert research into marketable products and services, businesses, and ultimately, jobs.

Specifically, funding is intended for capacity-building programs that provide proof-of-concept and commercialization assistance to innovators and entrepreneurs and for operational support for organizations that provide essential early-stage funding to startups.

Under the RIS Program, EDA is soliciting applications for two separate competitions:

1. i6 Challenge: Funding to help turn ideas and inventions into products and companies

2018 i6 Challenge
The i6 Challenge is designed to increase entrepreneurship that is driven by innovations, ideas, intellectual property (IP), and applied research through the process of technology commercialization and that results in new businesses, accelerated paths to export, increased FDI, and new jobs. Proof-of-concept and commercialization programs can be physical or virtual, existing or new. Existing programs need not have previously received EDA funds to be considered for an i6 Challenge award. Pursuant to Section 27, i6 Challenge funding may be used for a variety of purposes, including but not limited to personnel, program development, and equipment; however, construction costs are not eligible.

2. Seed Fund Support (SFS) Program: Fills gaps in early stage capital for startups

2018 SFS Grant Competition
Access to capital for early-stage companies is an essential element of a healthy regional innovation cluster. Taking an idea or innovation from conception to market often requires capital, but, in many regions across the country, innovators and entrepreneurs struggle to find it.

Through the SFS Grant Competition, EDA provides funding for technical assistance and operational costs, such as conducting feasibility studies, engaging in planning activities, etc., that support the formation, launch, or scale of cluster-focused seed funds that invest their capital in innovation-based startups with a potential for high growth and job creation. For the purposes of this NOFO, a seed fund is an investment fund that, through equity-based instruments, generally invests in new and young companies with high growth potential and that is operated by one or more professional fund managers. These managers develop an investment strategy, capitalize the fund with investment capital from one or more institutions or individuals, and deploy the investment capital by funding early-stage companies in exchange for equity stakes or similar financial interests in those portfolio companies. Seed funds typically sustain their operations through those interests as they raise and deploy capital (e.g., through management fees) and as their portfolio companies increase in value and reach exit events (e.g., through carried interest at acquisition, initial public offering (IPO), another realization of a return on equity).

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 173166

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

2018 i6 Challenge Grants EDA plans to award approximately $16,000,000 under the 2018 i6 Challenge. The maximum Federal share of each i6 Challenge grant is $750,000.

EDA plans to award approximately $5,000,000 under the 2018 SFS Grant Competition. The maximum Federal share of each SFS Grant is $300,000.


  • City or township governments
  • County governments
  • Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized)
  • Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS
  • Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
  • Private institutions of higher education
  • Public and State controlled institutions of higher education
  • See RFP and/or Grant Guidelines for full eligibility
  • Special district governments
  • State governments

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Additional Eligibility:
A State; An Indian tribe; A city or other political subdivision of a State; An entity that— (a) is a nonprofit organization, an institution of higher education, a public-private partnership, a science or research park, a Federal laboratory, or an economic development organization or similar entity; or A consortium of any of the immediately aforementioned entities.

Funding Restrictions
Construction activities are not allowable costs under either competition and may not be charged to the EDA funds of the project or provided as matching share, except in limited circumstances. For the purposes of this grant, construction includes any activity, including the installation of equipment, that disturbs the ground or modifies a structure. Additionally, the use of project funds to make equity investments is not an allowable cost; neither EDA funds nor matching share may be used for such purposes.

Pre-Application Information:

The closing date and time for receipt of applications for funding is Wednesday, August 29, 2018 at 11:59 PM Eastern Time. Applications must be submitted electronically.

Applicants must demonstrate at the time of application a matching share of at least 50 percent of the total project costs from non-Federal sources; ie. for every dollar of Federal funds requested, applicants must demonstrate a commitment of at least one dollar of matching share. The amount of an EDA grant may not exceed 50 percent of the total cost of each project.

In-kind contributions may provide the required non-Federal share of the total project cost and can consist of contributions directly related to the proposed project, such as services, equipment, or space. EDA will fairly evaluate all in-kind contributions, which must be eligible project costs and which must meet applicable Federal cost principles and uniform administrative requirements.

Applicants must submit their applications via, and are advised that they must complete the registration process prior to submitting an application through An application that is not validated and timestamped by by the Application Deadline WILL NOT BE REVIEWED. Note that the registration is a multi-stage process that involves a number of steps, including validation, verification, and registration through other websites such as The process can take between 3 to 5 business days or as long as FOUR WEEKS if all steps are not completed correctly. Applicants are strongly encouraged to start early and not to wait until near the application deadline before logging on and reviewing the instructions for submitting an application through

Subject to the availability of funding, successful applicants should expect to receive grant award notification approximately 90-120 days from the application closing date.

EDA plans to conduct an informational webinar for this NOFO and expects to make available scheduling information and a link to a recording at

Application FAQs:

Note: Applicants may, but are not required to, submit proposals for more than one competition under the RIS Program.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply here:

EDA Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship
(202) 482-4001

U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
Suite 71014
Washington, DC 20230

CFDA Number:

11.020 - Cluster Grants

Funding or Pin Number:


URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming