Virginia Innovation Partnership Wins $1M Federal Grant
The Virginia Innovation Partnership is one of only seven multi-institution initiatives to win federal funding as part of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s i6 Challenge in 2012. Rebecca M. Blank, acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce, announced the Virginia Innovation Partnership as a recipient of a $1 million i6 grant at a ceremony held yesterday at the University of Virginia.
The Virginia Innovation Partnership will bring together universities, community colleges, corporations, investment capital and other resources to drive promising research discoveries forward. The partnership seeks to create a sustainable growth model that will allow innovative projects created at the state’s universities and colleges to be developed into new prototypes and businesses.
“The Department of Commerce’s i6 Challenge is designed to encourage Americans who want to take risks with game-changing ideas, speed their innovations to marketplace, and thereby empower the next generation of job creators that are so essential for an economy that is built to last,” said Blank.
The Virginia Innovation Partnership is unique in the U.S. because it creates a network that links talent, ideas and capital together across an entire state. The approach is designed to be scalable to other states, thus providing the foundation for the resurgence of real value creation in America that creates jobs and economic growth.
“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 George Mason University, Hampton University, Mountain Empire Community College, New River Community College, Norfolk State University, Northern Virginia Community College, Old Dominion University, Piedmont Virginia Community College, Radford University, Tidewater Community College, the University of Richmond, the University of Virginia, the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Tech, plus corporate and government partners.
The Virginia Innovation Partnership will expand on U.Va.’s ongoing success with translational research programs that have produced over 7-to-1 returns in follow-on funding, particularly the Wallace H. Coulter Translational Research Partnership.
Based on the innovative model established by the Coulter program, the partnership will invest $800,000 in proof-of-concept projects each year. Following a statewide call for proposals, an experienced review board will select the most promising projects for funding. All project teams will receive expert feedback and mentoring.
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. In addition to strategic investments, the Virginia Innovation Partnership will provide project teams with a rich network of mentors to assist them in developing new businesses around their discoveries, and host an annual venture capital event for project teams.
Projects are expected to compete in biotechnology, information technology, energy production and conservation, environmental technology and sustainability, high-performance manufacturing, bioengineering and medical devices, nanotechnology, modeling and simulations, health care and biosciences, microelectronics, security and safety, architectural and other design-oriented fields and information assurance.