Obama Administration Announces $12 Million i6 Green Investment to Promote Clean Energy Innovation and Job Creation

U.S. map with locations of 6 winning i6 Green teams.

National initiative leverages resources of five federal agencies for green technology.

September 29, 2011

WASHINGTON - 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 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."

"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."

"NSF is pleased to participate in this opportunity to advance sustainable technologies," said Dr. Thomas W. Peterson, NSF Assistant Director for Engineering.  "Regional partnerships like these will help strengthen American innovation."  NSF Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grantees that are part of winning teams are eligible for supplemental funding from NSF. 

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

More information on i6 Green and the winners announced today is available at the i6 website, http://www.eda.gov/i6.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2020, its budget is $8.3 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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