R.I. Commerce approves Network Matching Grants, Innovation Vouchers

PROVIDENCE- The R.I. Commerce Corp. board of directors on Monday awarded five Network Matching Grants totaling $393,125 and five Innovation Vouchers totaling less than $250,000. 

The approvals came during the regular board meeting of the quasi-public agency chaired by Gov. Daniel J. McKee, who Tuesday in a statement said “this round of award recipients is a shining example of what is possible when we invest in businesses and organizations with vision.”  

The voucher program, launched in 2016, awards up to $50,000 to companies with 500 employees or less and can be used for research and development.  

The Innovation Network Matching Grant program, which require at least a 50% match from the applicant, was launched in 2017 and allows third-party organizations “to expand their efforts to offer technical assistance, space on flexible terms, and/or access to capital to Rhode Island small businesses in key industries,” according to its website.

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Commerce Secretary Liz Tanner in a statement said the dual programs “are two important tools for business development across our state. 

“Our message is that Rhode Island wants to help your business innovate and thrive,” she said. “This round of award recipients is proof that innovative expansion is taking place right here in the Ocean State.” 

 Recipients of the Innovation Vouchers Awards were as follows: 

  • $50,000 to Avocet LLC to work with the School of Engineering at Brown University to conduct a wind tunnel study and to study the computer fluid dynamics of Avocet’s blade design to optimize the design for functionality 
  • $49,934 Xmark Labs LLC for Nosy, a building efficiency sensor designed for retrofits in commercial buildings that provides building environment and usage data that helps building operators improve energy efficiency, monitor indoor air quality, and streamline day to day operations.  
  • $50,000 to Flux Marine LTD to leverage technology from the company’s recently developed electric outboard motors and apply them to a new type of propulsion product. This product will allow Flux Marine to enter new markets and accelerate the global transition towards sustainable transportation. 
  • $50,000 to A-Team Coastal LLC [d/b/a Rhody Wild Sea Gardens] to partner with University of Rhode Island to test the product development of animal feed with the inclusion of sugar kelp.  
  • $50,000 to Fulford Manufacturing Company to develop a new electric vehicle part that will inevitably lead to a whole new category of parts in the electric vehicle market. 

 Innovation Network Matching Grants were as follows: 

  • $60,000 to Town Made, a co-production facility for food entrepreneurs in South County. The grant will provide additional freezer and fridge space to food businesses that use the Town Made space. 
  • $60,000 to Hope & Main, which recently opened a new location in Providence. 
  • $100,000 to Social Enterprise Greenhouse to expand access to its microgrant fund, which awards grants of up to $5,000 to small businesses in Rhode Island with budgets under $250,000. 
  • $98,125 to ONE Neighborhood Builders to expand the work of their recently launched Biz Bodega—a centralized hub for small business support and resources located in Central Providence and increase community engagement efforts for their Central Providence Community Loan Fund. 
  • $75,000 to DESIGNxRI to expand the reach of their Design Catalyst program, a competitive grant program providing seed capital, business mentorship, professional development training, and peer-to-peer networking to help design businesses reach their growth goals. 

According to Commerce, there has been $8.9 million awarded from the two programs to date, comprised of 110 Innovation Voucher recipients and 36 Innovation Network Matching Grant recipients, resulting in a return of $17.2 million in new investment for Rhode Island companies. 

 Christopher Allen is a PBN staff writer. You may contact him at Allen@PBN.com.