WASHIINGTON – SBA Administrator Karen Mills has announced the U.S. Small
Business Administration’s support for 10 regional economic development and
job creation efforts through a new pilot program, “Innovative Economies.”
The pilot program supports small businesses participation in regional
economic “clusters” – collaborations between small businesses, the public
sector, economic development and other organizations.
“Maximizing a region’s economic assets is one of the best ways to create long
term job growth, and that’s what SBA’s new Innovative Economies pilot
initiative is doing,” Mills said. “Today we are announcing funding support for
10 regional economic clusters. SBA’s support will help expand the
opportunities and the role small businesses play in these regional
collaborations, which are enhancing the ability to create jobs locally and
compete on a national and global scale.”
The 10 “Innovative Economies” awardees selected from among 173 applicants
to participate in the pilot program represent a wide range of diverse
geographic areas and industries. From urban to rural and clean energy to
robotics, the applicants focused on leading research and commercializing new
SBA’s funding will be provided to each cluster’s organizing entity to strengthen
opportunities for small businesses within the cluster. The funds can be used
to provide services, including mentoring and counseling small businesses, as
well as to attract more small business participation.
SBA is supporting two types of innovative economies: Regional Innovation
Clusters and Advanced Defense Technologies. The seven Regional Innovation
Clusters focus on providing business training, commercialization and technology
transfer services, counseling, mentoring and other services that support the
growth and development of small businesses in the cluster region.
The SBA also worked with the U.S. Department of Defense to identify areas
around the country where regional innovation clusters can help meet critical
defense technology needs. Three Advanced Defense Technology awardees
will focus on providing business training, counseling, mentoring, matchmaking
and other services to small businesses that focus on critical DoD
The 10 Innovative Economies Include:
Agriculture Innovation Cluster (Monterey – Santa Cruz – San Benito, Calif.)
The AIC focus is on agricultural innovation, including production, related
physical and human capital infrastructure, and leading-edge agriculture
Carolinas’ Nuclear Cluster (N.C., S.C.) The Carolinas’ Nuclear Cluster provides
strategy, structure, and on-the-ground execution to grow the North and
South Carolina businesses that serve the nuclear energy industry locally,
regionally, and multi-nationally.
Connecticut Hydrogen-Fuel Cell Coalition (Conn., N.Y., Mass., Maine, Vt., N.H.,
R.I.) The Connecticut Hydrogen-Fuel Cell Coalition/Cluster, administered by the
Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, works to enhance economic
growth by developing, manufacturing, and deploying fuel cell and hydrogen
technologies and associated fueling systems.
Enterprise for Innovative Geospatial Solutions (Miss., La.) EIGS organizes
complimentary geospatial businesses, government agencies, and educational
institutions in Mississippi and the Louisiana Gulf Coast to help create a trained
workforce, transfer geospatial technology from public institutions into the
market, and foster new business growth. Geospatial technology is the
combination of GPS (global positioning systems), GIS (geographical information
systems), and satellite or aerial image-based remote sensing.
Illinois Smart Grid Regional Innovation Cluster (Ill.) The ISG-RIC is a
collaboration of more than 100 entities (including 70 businesses) in the
Chicago region, focused on the acceleration of Smart Grid innovation,
deployments, and new market development. The Smart Grid is a convergence
of technological and investment interests across multiple sectors, focused on
using advanced technology to improve inefficient and outdated electric
NorTech (Ohio) NorTech focuses on technology-based economic development
in 21 counties of Northeast Ohio. Funds will help small business development
within NorTech’s FlexMatters initiative, which focuses on advanced energy and
flexible electronics. Flexible electronics, which are electronic devices printed
on flexible substrates, are emerging as a newly commercializable science, and
a growing manufacturing opportunity.
Upper Michigan Green Aviation Coalition (UMi-GAC) (Mich.) The Upper Michigan
Green Aviation Coalition is a public-private partnership with 41 active
members, focused on expanding the green aviation industry.
Defense Alliance of Minnesota (Minn., N.D., S.D., Wis.) The Defense Alliance of
Minnesota connects high technology innovation to defense industry
opportunities and accelerating technology transfer of R&D and into commercial
San Diego Advanced Defense Cluster (San Diego, Calif.) The San Diego
Advanced Defense Cluster focuses on autonomous systems and cyber
security, as well as other technologies applicable to defense needs.
Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation (Huntsville, Ala.) VCSI’s primary
focus is Aero-Space technology with applications for NASA, DoD, and NOAA.
Its projects have included robotics for the detection of Improvised Explosive
Devices, supporting spacecraft launches and building new micro satellites.