It was a good sign that despite diminished funding, DESIGNxRI was able to make 13 grants to local design firms in its 2017-2018 cohort of Providence Design Catalyst award recipients.
The grants, which ranged in size from $5,000 to $8,500 from a pool of $90,000, are a good investment in some of the most dynamic small businesses in the region. Yet if there is a downside to this news, it is the fact that the grant program had no funding – and thus no grants – at all in 2016-2017.
In the program’s first year, in 2015, it received $450,000 to put toward grants of up to $35,000.
Clearly, the program is experiencing growing pains, but that is a shame. Firms with design DNA in them are just what Rhode Island needs. Design thinking is trending in the business world for a good reason – creative people can look at intractable problems and find new ways to solve them.
So the next time that a government agency or a philanthropist thinks about how best to create catalysts for growth in the region, they should make sure to include this DESIGNxRI program.