The U.S. Economic Development Agency (EDA) announced today that StartingBlock Madison is one of the winners of its i6 Challenge. Launched in 2010, the i6 Challenge is part of the EDA’s Startup America Initiative. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced 35 organizations from 19 states—out of more than 215 applicants—will receive nearly $15 million to create and expand cluster-focused, proof-of-concept and commercialization programs, and early-stage seed capital funds through the EDA’s Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program.
StartingBlock’s Executive Director, Scott Resnick, says that the EDA announcement is an exciting show of support and “will help StartingBlock carry out its bold and ambitious dream of strengthening our region by helping Madison’s most promising startups and entrepreneurs succeed.” The grant will provide $475,000 over three years to further StartingBlock’s objectives to cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurs, provide proof-of-concept and commercialization support to existing companies, and leverage and connect regional assets.
The EDA funding will support StartingBlock programming and operations, including staff funding for its Director of Programming, a talent resource specialist, a part-time Lab Coordinator, and mentor-in-residence. “Wisconsin has a proud history of entrepreneurship and innovation,” said Senator Baldwin. “I congratulate StartingBlock in being selected for the Economic Development Administrations’ 2016 Regional Innovation Strategies i6 Challenge grant. Their work will help equip Made in Wisconsin startups and entrepreneurs with the tools they need to succeed.”
Congressman Mark Pocan added, “this is great news that will foster new collaborations among an inclusive group of creative, regional entrepreneurs at a vital time and help grow our economic health, jobs and community prosperity.”
The federal funds will complement the tremendous commitment and belief in StartingBlock by the City of Madison, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, American Family Insurance, the UW-Madison, MGE, and other community leaders. “The support from business leaders, especially American Family Insurance, and federal, state, regional and municipal entities makes StartingBlock a game-changing collaboration,” said MADRep President Paul Jadin. “StartingBlock Madison will become another Madison asset that enables our region to set new standards for the global marketplace.”