Thames River Innovation Place seeks projects to receive up to $1.5 million
Thames River Innovation Place, one of four innovation places the public-private network CTNext designated for state funding in 2017, is seeking year-four project proposals that will collectively receive up to $1.5 million.
TRIP last week released a request for proposals soliciting projects that enhance the "blue economy" of the region, defining the blue tech space as "a convergence of traditional maritime industries with the advanced technology sector."
Nonprofits, for-profits, municipalities and individuals may apply, and the deadline for submissions is Aug. 21. The RFP can be found at thamesriverinnovation.org.
The TRIP board will select projects to present to CTNext for approval at the end of September. Approved projects would begin Oct. 1 and must set milestones to be completed by Sept. 30, 2021.
According to the RFP, priority will be given to projects that "create a supportive environment for emerging entrepreneurs," link aspiring entrepreneurs with mentors, fill market opportunities, market the region to new customers or businesses, and directly impact Groton.
TRIP will also consider projects that "provide innovative solutions addressing local business needs related to COVID-19." Executive Director Liz Pasqualini said TRIP is not looking for applications to help an individual business that is struggling, but for ones that "impact the region or a particular industry in a significant way."
Approved projects must get matching funding from non-state sources. Pasqualini said past projects — which have included Community Concierge, RD86, and the Naval & Maritime Consortium — have gotten funding through sources such as U.S. Economic Development Administration grants and private foundations.
CTNext awarded TRIP $900,000 in the first year, $500,000 in the second and $1.5 million in the third. Funding for year three, which wraps up Sept. 30, was awarded in two stages.
TRIP last put out an RFP in February, that one for $371,000. The recipients of that funding include Hygienic Art, Flock Theatre, Spark Makerspace, Fresh New London, Norm Bloom and Son, the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Women's Business Development Center, TILL: bioFASHIONtech and Calmpak.
Norm Bloom and Son is using its funding for education and community outreach around shellfishing. Hygienic Art is doing programming on the intersection of art and technology. Spark Makerspace is moving to a new home.
The Mystic chamber foundation is developing a needs assessment for soft skills for middle-school students in Groton and New London. The WBDC is piloting a training program for "aspiring and beginning entrepreneurs on the move," such as military spouses.
TRIP went to contract with these partners March 1, meaning some have had to pivot due to the pandemic. Because the timeline was only March 1 to Sept. 30, Pasqualini said a lot of the projects were organized either as pilots or phase one. She anticipates some applicants will ask for more money for year four.
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