The U.S. Department of Commerce will give Winrock International a $279,202 grant for the Delta Innovation Fund (I-Fund) to create early-stage seed capital funds through the Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program.
The Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE), an arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), leads the RIS program to spur innovative, capacity-building activities in regions across the nation.
“This is great news for Arkansas,” U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., said in a statement. “This Department of Commerce initiative will benefit communities across our state by supporting innovative technologies and new businesses while helping attract and retain home-grown talent. I was pleased to support Winrock International’s proposal for this funding and am grateful for the organization’s commitment to entrepreneurship and job creation.”
This grant provides funding for technical assistance and operational costs that support the feasibility, planning, formation, launch, or scale of cluster-based seed funds that will invest their capital in innovation-based startups with high growth potential.
The Innovation Hub at Winrock International launched the original I-Fund in 2016 with an initial investment of $1 million from Iberia Bank, and this year the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) expanded that effort with an additional investment of $1 million to create the Delta I-Fund, a first-of-its-kind investment fund for Delta startups.
The fund targets entrepreneurs across the eight-state Delta region and provides key training, mentoring and capital investment to help them build businesses. Through Winrock’s Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, the Delta I-Fund works in underserved communities to develop key partnerships among public, private and university programs, and create jobs and businesses in areas that need the opportunities most.
Forty-two organizations — including nonprofits, institutions of higher education, and entrepreneurship-focused organizations from 28 states — received over $17 million to create and expand cluster-focused, proof-of-concept and commercialization programs, and early-stage seed capital funds through RIS.