When the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition returned from a four-year hiatus in 2006 to name its two winners, its organizers must have felt like a voice in the wilderness. There just wasn’t a vibrant startup community then.
Fast forward to last week, when the RIBPC named its three 2012 award winners. Picked from among 75 entrants, Siren Marine, JumpOffCampus and Overhead.fm represent just the tip of the iceberg.
Betaspring, the startup-accelerator program founded in 2008, has 38 companies in its portfolio and adds two new classes to the state’s business roster every year. Social Venture Partners Rhode Island, founded two years later, has 29 social ventures in its portfolio and also runs two of its own boot camps per year.
The Rhode Island Foundation just awarded two $300,000 grants to local entrepreneurs to help nurture arts and retail ventures, while the Rhode Island Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship provides support and programming to numerous early-stage companies.
Rhode Island may not be out if its funk, but taken as a whole, these many changes point to a much brighter future for the state. •