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Ecosystem Grants: February 2023

The federal government is serving up hundreds of millions of dollars for ecosystem builders this year - here are three opportunities to put on your radar for February 2023

Here at EcoMap, we know how critical sources of funding are to the longevity of ecosystem building initiatives. Whether it’s to provide physical infrastructure like space or digital infrastructure like ecosystem mapping tools (cough cough), these initiatives take time, money, and stakeholder buy-in in order to live up to their full potential.

And funding is often the critical piece of that trio that is missing in order to execute the plan.

One such source of funding that should not be overlooked is federal funding opportunities. The U.S. government has provided a couple of billion ($) in funding opportunities for ecosystem builders over the past couple of years, highlighted by initiatives like the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Community Navigator Pilot program, the Economic Development Agency’s (EDA) Build to Scale program, and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Regional Innovation Engines Program – just to name a few.

But the influx of federal funding for ecosystem building doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon. More and more funding has been appropriated for 2023 with the ultimate goal to further build regional innovation economies across the country. And there is a growing emphasis on providing funding opportunities as an effective incentive to get ecosystem builders in a similar region/mission to actually collaborate with one another.

As Ryan Buscaglia and Melissa Roberts Chapman put it in their article Cluster Development is the New Economic Development:

The Grants

… 2022 was a record year for place-based policies. From the EDA’s  $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) awards to the NSF’s TIP Directorate and Engines program, it is clear that developing geographically and technically diverse clusters is front of mind. A welcome surprise tucked into the end of year Omnibus spending bill was more than $750 million for the EDA to launch further place-based grant programs that invest in communities across the United States.

That’s why we are compiling federal funding opportunities that are relevant for ecosystem builders of all backgrounds.

To kick off this series, we’ve identified three such opportunities that ecosystem builders can apply for within the month of February.

Whether you’re supporting higher education, translational research, or rural entrepreneurial ecosystems – there is something for everybody this upcoming month. And if one of these opportunities doesn’t apply to your work, please be sure to share it with a friend!

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Enabling Partnerships to Increase Innovation Capacity (EPIIC)

Agency Hosting: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Headline: The NSF is seeking to broaden participation in innovation ecosystems that advance emerging technologies (e.g., advanced manufacturing, advanced wireless, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, quantum information science, semiconductors and microelectronics) by supporting capacity-building efforts at institutions of higher education (IHEs) interested in growing external partnerships.

Eligibility: Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs), with a special focus on Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs)

Award Amount: Up to $400,000 per award (up to 50 institutions will receive awards)

Deadline: February 15, 2023* (preliminary proposal, but required. Full deadline is May 25, 2023).

Submission Requirements: Specific preliminary proposal instructions can be found here.

Growth Accelerator Funding Competition

Agency Hosting: Small Business Administration (SBA)

Headline: The SBA is offering $50,000 to $200,000 in prize awards for impactful and inclusive approaches to foster a thriving, collaborative national innovation support ecosystem to advance research and development (R&D) from ideas to impact.

Eligibility: Private entities, non-federal govt. entities, academic institutions, or even just regular citizens who are at least 18 years old

Award Amount: $50,000 – $200,000 per award (up to 20 awards for Stage One)

Deadline: Stage One (Catalyze) is due February 24, 2023

Submission Requirements: Short application form, a slide deck, and 90 second video

Rural Business Development Grants (RBDG)

Agency Hosting: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Eligibility: Towns, communities, stage agencies, authorities, non-profits, IHEs, federally-recognized tribes, and rural cooperatives

Award Amount: There is no maximum grant amount; however, smaller requests are given higher priority

Deadline: Stage One (Catalyze) is due February 24, 2023

Submission Requirements: They vary depending on State offices. Find your own State office page to learn more.

In sum, there will be no shortage of federal funding opportunities for ecosystem builders in 2023. It is clear that many federal agencies have made cluster-based development a top priority and they’re bringing the dough to back it up.

These three opportunities are just the beginning.

Stay tuned to our newsletter for additional funding opportunities throughout the year.

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