DESIGNxRI’s Design Catalyst Program expands throughout state

PROVIDENCE – DESIGNxRI’s Design Catalyst Program has funded the efforts of Providence-based entrepreneurs since its launch in 2016. Now in its eighth year, the program will expand to support innovators from throughout the Ocean State.

This year’s program launch, announced by DESIGNxRI co-directors Rue Sakayama and Berit Lavender, Providence Mayor Brett P. Smiley and R.I. Commerce Corp. Chief Strategy Officer Daniela Fairchild on Sept. 1, will disperse a total of $178,000 in grant funding.

Selected entrepreneurs will receive awards totaling $7,500 to $15,000. The program has awarded 81 businesses a total of $1.29 million in grant funding since its inception.

The expansion was made possible through additional R.I. Commerce funding.

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“Supporting innovative small-business growth is the cornerstone of our work at R.I. Commerce Corporation,” said state Secretary of Commerce Elizabeth M. Tanner.

“The Design Catalyst Program has a proven track record of stimulating creative sector business growth through investment, training and mentorship. We’re excited to support taking this program to the statewide level and ensure more businesses throughout Rhode Island can access this dynamic business resource.”

Real Jobs Rhode Island will also continue to work with the program, having partnered with DESIGNxRI for the annual initiative since 2017.

“We know the impact this Design Catalyst Program has had on Providence businesses through its last five cohorts,” said Matthew Weldon, director of the R.I. Department of Labor and Training. “We’re excited to see the continued growth now that the program is expanding to serve all of Rhode Island for the first time. The business development resources this program offers are critical to supporting our state’s creative businesses and accelerating our continued economic recovery.”

Interested entrepreneurs can apply for the program through Oct. 13 at

Jacquelyn Voghel is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at