NNM VAF Awarded Grant Under U.S. Commerce Department’s Regional Innovation Strategies Program

Flow Science of Santa Fe receives the 2014 VAF Award. Courtesy photo
Mark Sanchez of FLUTe in Alcalde receives the 2014 VAF Award. Courtesy photo

BUSINESS News:

  • EDA Awards Cluster Grant To Regional Development Corporation

Española – U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced that the Regional Development Corporation (RDC) is among the first 26 recipients of the 2014 Regional Innovation Strategies program grants.

The Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program, which is being run by the Department’s Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE), is a new initiative designed to advance innovation and capacity-building activities in regions across the country through three different types of grants:

  • i6 Challenge grants;
  • Cluster Grants for Seed Capital Funds; and
  • Science and Research Park Development Grants.

Secretary Pritzker announced the recipients of the first two funding opportunities today. Recipients of the third grant will be announced in the coming weeks.

“As America’s “Innovation Agency,” the Commerce Department has a key role to play in supporting the innovators and job creators of tomorrow,” Secretary Pritzker said. “We want to ensure that all entrepreneurs have access to the tools they need to move their ideas and inventions from idea to market. The Regional Innovation Strategies Program competition is designed to advance this mission across the United States, strengthening our economy and our global competitiveness.” 

The Regional Development Corporation received a $248,946 Cluster Grant for Seed Capital Funds grant for the Venture Acceleration Fund (VAF) Enhancement Project, which will improve the performance and impact of the Venture Acceleration Fund’s existing seed fund by providing technical assistance to existing portfolio companies and by better connecting the ecosystem’s stakeholders.

The project will develop a feasibility study for a larger regional seed capital fund to be able to provide seed capital for early-stage companies, especially those focused on science- and technology-based products and services.   

“This investment demonstrates the level of talent and innovative ideas New Mexico is known for, said U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. “And in Los Alamos, high-tech startup companies spur ingenuity and economic growth. Through continued collaboration between RDC and northern New Mexico’s small business community, we will diversify our economy and create quality jobs.

“Ensuring that New Mexico’s innovators have the support necessary to start and grow their companies is essential to creating good-paying technology jobs,” U.S. Sen. Tom Udall. D-NM said. “These federal funds will enable the Regional Development Corporation’s Venture Acceleration Fund to help more start-ups bring new technology to market, and I’m excited that this program will now have resources to expand and build off existing economic assets like Los Alamos National Laboratory.”

“Growing and diversifying our economy to create more opportunities for hard-working New Mexicans is my top priority and one shared by RDC,” said U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District. “With this competitive grant, RDC has earned critical federal funding that will help support its innovative efforts to spur economic development in Northern New Mexico.”

The Regional Development Corporation will receive the funding over two years to widen the applicant pool to the VAF and create an equity investment fund in collaboration with New Mexico Angels, the state’s accredited angel investor group. The EDA grant will allow for the creation of a legal framework for the RDC to take equity in selected VAF companies. The overall goal is to build the VAF into a sustainable fund that can support more growth-oriented companies in northern New Mexico.

“I’m thrilled that the U.S. Department of Commerce has taken a positive step to invest in the economic health of northern New Mexico,” stated Kathy Keith, executive director of the RDC. “The RDC is grateful for the support we received from Los Alamos National Security’s grant-writing assistance program, which helped us secure this grant.”

Early access to capital is crucial for startups, but can be difficult to obtain outside traditional startup hubs. Cluster Grants for Seed Capital Funds provide technical assistance funding to support the feasibility, planning, formation, or launch of cluster-based seed capital funds, which will help improve access to capital for entrepreneurs across the United States.  The total amount of funding for the U.S. Cluster Grant for Seed Capital Funds under RIS is nearly $2 million.

For more information about the Regional Innovation Strategies Program, including a full list of the 2014 grant recipients, please visit: http://www.eda.gov/oie/2014-risp-competition.htm.

About the Venture Acceleration Fund (VAF)
The VAF (www.losalamosconnect.net/vaf/) is a collaborative investment established by Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS) in 2006. This year LANS, along with Los Alamos County, New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), Santa Fe County and the City of Santa Fe are investors in the fund. The VAF is awarded to high-growth companies as a zero-interest loan, with repayment required only if certain triggers are met. Since 2006, the VAF has funneled more than $3.2 million to 49 New Mexico businesses. The fund is administered by the Regional Development Corporation of Española, New Mexico.

About the Regional Development Corporation (RDC)

The Regional Development Corporation is a non-profit economic development organization based in Española, New Mexico with the mission of creating jobs and attracting additional revenue to the northern New Mexico region. Learn more at www.rdcnm.org.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (http://www.eda.gov)

The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

Elizabeth and Roger Inman, Purple Adobe Lavender Farm, in Abiquiu receive the 2014 VAF Award. Courtesy photo

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