Federal grants will launch new partnership to support translational research companies and a program to grow life science startups
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline today announced that two Rhode Island organizations have received a total of $597,500 in grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s 2020 Build to Scale Capital Challenge. Providence-based Slater Technology Fund has been awarded a $300,000 grant to partner with Brown University on a new initiative to boost health care-related technology startups. RI Bio won a $297,500 grant to launch a program aimed at commercializing and expanding life science startup activity in Rhode Island.
“This is a cost-effective investment in encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation here in Rhode Island. Slater Technology Fund, Brown University, RI Bio and their partners will use this federal funding to help health-tech and life science startups achieve lift off and translate their scientific discoveries into commercial products. Developing these companies and accelerating medical solutions can have major benefits for patients and economic development benefits as well,” said Senator Reed.
“With world-class universities and top notch health care providers, Rhode Island has a solid foundation for growing our health technology sector,” said Senator Whitehouse. “Slater Technology Fund, Brown University, and RI Bio will put these federal funds to work helping local health care and life sciences startups bring their businesses to scale, add jobs, and make much-needed investments in the local economy.”
“Rhode Island has a wealth of talent and renowned institutions to lead cutting-edge medical research that can improve lives and boost our local economy,” said Congressman Langevin. “The grant funding awarded to Slater Technology Fund, Brown University, and RI Bio is a direct investment into the long-term success of Rhode Island. Through this type of support the Ocean State can continue to be a hub for innovation.”
“Rhode Island’s emerging startup and growing life science sectors are already creating jobs and generating economic growth around the state,” said Congressman Cicilline. “These new federal funding awards will remove barriers between research and risk capital and contribute to our developing innovation ecosystem. I am delighted we are bringing these resources home to the Ocean State to support Slater Technology Fund, Brown University, and RI Bio Network to continue to expand life-science and health startup activity.
The EDA’s Capital Challenge is designed to increase access to capital in communities where risk capital is in short supply. Funding from the Capital Challenge may be used to provide operational support for the formation, launch, or scale of investment funds that seek to invest capital in scalable startups.
Slater Technology Fund’s Translational Ventures
Slater Technology Fund has provided seed and early-stage capital to support technology-based startups in Rhode Island for more than two decades. This EDA funding will allow Slater to collaborate with Brown University and other partners to establish Translational Ventures, a regional initiative dedicated to growing the knowledge economy. The initiative will focus on investing in seed-stage technology companies working in translational research—research specifically designed to improve health outcomes. Translational Ventures will help startups seek out new technologies, facilitate connections with founders and funders, and establish best practices to expand the initiative to other universities in the region.
“Entrepreneurs drive translational research out of the labs and into the world. Money powers these teams, and Slater has been innovating alongside them in the area of risk capital,” said Thorne Sparkman, managing director of Slater Technology Fund. “The EDA grant will accelerate our capital formation activities which support the most compelling founders attacking the most important problems. There’s no better foundation for that than research from a top-tier university, so we’re excited to work with our partners at Brown to expand on our mission.”
Academic leaders at Brown say the initiative reflects a rapidly growing emphasis among the University’s biomedical scholars on translational science — ensuring that breakthroughs in research are advanced to the point where they can make a meaningful different for patients, and that urgent scientific questions identified among patient populations become research priorities in Brown’s laboratories. It also complements Brown and the Innovation Economy, the University’s action plan to optimize the ability of faculty to turn research into commercial ventures.
“We are excited to work with Slater Technology Fund on this important initiative and appreciative of these efforts to grow startups,” said Neil Veloso, executive director of Brown Technology Innovations, the technology transfer arm of the University. “When paired with entrepreneurs and seeded with capital, innovations launched at Brown can form the basis of high-impact startup companies that can benefit both the state’s economy and residents across the region.”
RI Bio Network Program
RI Bio will use the $297,500 EDA grant to launch the new RI Bio Network Program, which is aimed at commercializing and expanding life science startup activity in Rhode Island. The RI Bio Network Program will represent an expansion of RI Bio’s suite of business and technical assistance available to the life sciences community.
“RI Bio is excited to be among the 52 recipients awarded the EDA Build to Scale funds. Through this significant and timely investment, we can grow the Life Sciences entrepreneurial ecosystem in RI and transform the state into a recognized leader as a Life Sciences innovation hub. The future of RI’s economic prosperity depends on our ability to support an integrated entrepreneurial ecosystem, fueled by vision, partnerships, collaboration and important investments like this,” said Carol Malysz, Executive Director of RI Bio. “Most importantly, this EDA investment will allow RI Bio and our partners to commercialize and expand life science start-up activity in Rhode Island’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Rhode Island will have the chance to bring medical and scientific excellence to the forefront to foster innovation and entrepreneurship, impacting the health and wellbeing of all Rhode Islanders.”
RI Bio is Rhode Island’s Life Sciences trade organization and state affiliate of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), the world’s largest biotech trade organization. As the Life Sciences convener and hub for Rhode Island, RI Bio connects entrepreneurs with universities, government agencies, medical centers, professional associations, trade organizations, service providers and investors, to help bring their developments to market, create jobs, and make an economic impact in Rhode Island.