URI Research Foundation (URIRF) Selected as Build Back Better EDA Grant Finalist

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by | Dec 17, 2021

URIRF Will Lead Regional Coalition to Grow “Blue Economy” With $500K Phase One EDA Grant

Polaris MEP’s parent organization, the University of Rhode Island Research Foundation (URIRF), in conjunction with Rhode Island Commerce and a regional team focused on the growing blue economy, has been selected by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) as a finalist in the nation-wide Build Back Better Regional Challenge.

Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced 60 finalists for the $1 billion “Build Back Better Regional Challenge” that aims to boost economic pandemic recovery and rebuild American communities. URIRF is one of 60 finalist applications out of 529 total that were submitted to receive a phase one planning grant of $500,000.

In conjunction with Rhode Island Commerce, URIRF’s proposal focuses on Rhode Island’s natural advantages and the density of cross-sector excellence to advance a variety of new “blue” technology capabilities. The team’s proposal addressses historically excluded populations and proposes strategies to address economic disparities across the state.

Offshore Wind farm - Blue Economy.URI - Ayla FoxWith phase one funding, the URIRF coalition of government, academic, equity and industry partners will develop the infrastructure needed to meet the goals of the proposal — developing and supporting three to eight meaningful projects to grow the Blue Economy Technology Cluster.

The Research Foundation will be eligible to apply for phase two funding in March 2022, which could provide up to $100 million in funding to implement the initiative.

State and University of Rhode Island leaders commented on the Blue Economy cluster and the EDA grant in a press release issued by the University of Rhode Island.

University of Rhode Island President Marc Parlange: “This is an exciting time for URI. We have the resources to support technology and growth while building a robust pipeline of jobs. We have spent years building a network of partners, serving as a bridge between industry and government through vital and impactful translational research. This grant will not only accelerate the work we are currently doing but it will position URI as a powerful engine, fueling the blue economy in the state and the region.”

Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee: “I’m proud that both applications that Rhode Island submitted to the Federal Economic Development Administration have been named as finalists in the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better regional challeng. If selected, these proposals in the blue economy and biosciences will strengthen our competitiveness in these two critical industries and will help create high quality, well-paying jobs for our state. I thank the team of partners for their work crafting this strong proposal and our congressional delegation for their strong advocacy on behalf of the Ocean State.”

U.S. Senator Jack Reed: “I helped include $1 billion for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge in the American Rescue Plan Act to make investments in promising programs like the URI Research Foundation’s Blue Economy Technology Cluster. I commend URI and its economic development partners for putting together a successful phase one application.

“We need to make our economy more resilient. The Rhode Island Blue Economy Technology Cluster will bring more ‘blue’ jobs and businesses to the Ocean State and lead to long-term, sustainable growth across Rhode Island. I hope today’s federal funding leads to a multimillion-dollar phase two award.”

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: “We can build Rhode Island’s economy back better by playing to our advantages, like the growing ocean economy. This federal award will support the development of a strategic plan for expanding the Ocean State’s blue economy and creating well-paying jobs. I wish the University of Rhode Island, Commerce RI, and their partners continued success in the next round of the challenge.”

Congressman Jim Langevin: “The University of Rhode Island is leading the way in groundbreaking research related to the blue economy. When we talk about Building Back Better, we’re talking about climate action, clean energy, and initiatives that support sustainable seafood supply chains. The University of Rhode Island is tackling all of these issues, and I am so proud that such incredible work is being done right here in Rhode Island’s Second Congressional District. This $500,000 grant is going to help us put Rhode Island on the map as the engine of blue technology development around the world.”

Congressman David Cicilline: “The RI Blue Economy Technology Cluster will establish Rhode Island and Southern New England as a premier destination for the ports and shipping, defense, marine trades, ocean-based renewables, aquaculture and fisheries, and tourism and recreation industries. We have the potential to become a leader in the blue economy and this Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant will enable URI and its partners to harness all we have to offer and realize this vision.”

Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor: “RI Commerce is pleased to be a lead partner in this effort to strengthen and grow our blue economy. The Governor’s RI 2030 plan and RI Innovates 2.0 conclude that the blue economy can be a key economic driver for the state, creating high quality, well-paying jobs. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with URI and other key stakeholders on this important initiative.”

Polaris MEP frequently partners with Rhode Island Commerce on programs that support the state’s small and medium-sized manufacturers.

The URI Research Foundation, also known as URI Ventures, oversees market analysis, commercialization of protected intellectual property, and the development of business relationships with corporate and government partners for the University of Rhode Island. These commercialization activities advance Rhode Island’s economy, while improving society and human lives.

Polaris MEP and 401 Tech Bridge are business units of URIRF.

Read the URI Research Foundation’s Blue Economy Technology Cluster Proposal.

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