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Economic News

EDA awards grants to 2 Oregon economic development programs

October 31,2017 | By Economic Development Administration

The Oregon Built Enviornment Sustainble Technologies Center (Oregon BEST) and the Regional Accelerator & Innovation Network (RAIN) each received funding.

The Economic Development Administration recently awarded two Oregon economic development programs with grant funding through two separate competitions. Oregon BEST was awarded for its Cascadia CleanTech Acceleration and Proof of Concept Development Project and Oregon RAIN was awarded for its Willamette Valley Seed Fund (WVSF).

Oregon BEST

Oregon BEST was chosen among the recipients of the i6 Challenge that awards grants that build regional capacity to translate innovations into jobs through proof-of-concept and commercialization assistance to innovators and entrepreneurs and through operational support for organizations that provide essential early-stage risk capital to innovators and entrepreneurs. Its award amount is $499,972 in federal funds and  $499,972 in non-federal funds. 

Oregon BEST funds and supports innovative cleantech startups across Oregon. Its Cascadia CleanTech Acceleration and Proof of Concept Development Project will replicate its already successful model for proof of concept projects in Washington and increase the chance of successful proof of concept projects through expanded accelerator curriculum and preparing companies for a greater chance of follow-on seed investment.

Bringing a cleantech innovation to market faces significant barriers, not limited to the fact that these are highly regulated industries and have risk-averse customers.

Oregon BEST’s project will alleviate these issues by giving technology innovators the resources and training necessary to successfully complete a proof of concept project that prepares them for investment and market adoption.

Based on Oregon BEST’s successful track record, this expansion program is expected to have similar impactful results. Five-years post grant, Oregon BEST anticipates 40 technologies licensed, and $25 million in follow on investments.


RAIN received funding through the Seed Funds Support Grands competition. This competition provides funding for technical assistance to support the creation, launch, or expansion of equity-based, cluster-focused seed funds that invest regionally-managed risk capital in regionally-based startups with a potential for high growth. Its funding amount is $300,000 in federal funds and $964,000 in non-federal funds. 

Oregon RAIN serves the entrepreneurs in Oregon’s South Willamette Valley and Mid-Coast by helping them turn ideas into high impact, innovative, traded-sector companies that can grow and thrive locally. With this funding it will create the Willamette Valley Seed Fund (“WVSF”), which will be an equity-based, sustainable pool of capital to fund early-stage companies in Oregon’s underrepresented and unconnected South Willamette Valley and Mid-Coast Region.

The WVSF will focus on the abundant number of technology and other scalable startups in our region that spring from the hundreds of millions of dollars in research being done at Oregon State University and University of Oregon in innovation clusters that include biotechnology, clean energy technology, computers and peripherals, electronics/instrumentation, chemistry, industrial/energy, Internet/web services, IT services, medical devices/equipment, mobile technology, pharmaceuticals, robotics, semiconductors, software, nanotechnology, unmanned aerial vehicles, and marine science.

RAIN expects to raise $10.5 million in capital from 75 investors in the WVSF to be invested in 50 innovation-centric startups, ultimately supporting the creation of 300 new jobs.

About the grants

In this year’s round, $17 million in Federal funding was available for the creation and expansion of cluster-focused programs and early-stage seed capital funds that strengthen ecosystems in which entrepreneurs can translate research and technologies into new businesses and jobs through the i6 Challenge and the Seed Fund Support (SFS) Grant competition. EDA made 42 total investments and leveraged over $22 million in private, State, and local matching funds.

This fourth cohort of awards expands the i6 and SFS portfolios into a total of eight new states. Overall, RIS grantees are now building local and regional entrepreneurship ecosystems in 40 states and one U.S. territory in which entrepreneurs and innovators are starting and scaling businesses in industries like advanced manufacturing, aerospace, agricultural technology, healthcare technology, and more. These ecosystems are the foundations of vibrant, dynamic regional economies that are globally competitive and create quality jobs.

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