$1 Million Grant Awarded at UVa to Spur Economic Development

September 19, 2012

During a visit to the University of Virginia Wednesday, acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank announced a $1 million investment aimed at spurring job growth and economic development in Virginia.

The Virginia Innovation Partnership will receive the funds as a winner of the Department of Commerce's i6 Challenge, a national competition to advance innovative product development, increase the commercialization of ideas into viable companies, spur the formation of start-ups, and create jobs.

The Virginia Innovation Partnership will bring together universities, community colleges, corporations, investment capital and other resources to drive the research.

"It’s critically important to translate the breakthrough research advances happening in academic institutions to society,” U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan said. “We are pleased to lead this unique effort, which leverages the strengths of many partners throughout the commonwealth to identify and support solutions that will improve our economy and our quality of life.”

The Virginia Innovation Partnership will receive $1 million in federal funding over two years as part of the i6 Challenge, with additional matching funds provided by corporate participants, university partners and other entities. Current partners are University of Virginia, Piedmont Virginia Community College, George Mason University, Hampton University, Mountain Empire Community College, New River Community College, Norfolk State University, Northern Virginia Community College, Old Dominion University, Radford University, Tidewater Community College, the University of Richmond, the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Tech, plus corporate and government partners.

The goal is to create a sustainable growth model that allows innovative projects to be developed into new prototypes and businesses.

“This grant will allow the Virginia Innovation Partnership to scale-up an initiative that is already generating a 7-to-1 return on an initial $7 million investment," said Virginia Senator Mark Warner (D). "I am pleased to congratulate them on winning one of just six Innovation Challenge awards. In a fiscal environment where we must findways to do more with less, we need to continue thinking outside the box to get the most out of federally-funded R&D investments.”

Each year, the partnership will fund 20 projects at the $40,000 to $80,000 level, with the expectation of attracting significant follow-on funding and forming new Virginia companies.

According to the Department of Commerce, estimates from the Virginia Innovation Partnership show this will result in 140 new jobs over two years, 640 jobs after four years and 2,000 new jobs after eight years.

“Virginia continues to demonstrate that it has the infrastructure, talent and innovative ideas in place to continue to be a national leader in economic development,” Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) said. “The Virginia Innovative Partnership brings ideas and ventures that are born every day in our world-class colleges and universities to market faster, creating jobs and opportunities in all parts of the state.”

Grants were also awarded to projects in California, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.

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