The State of Vermont is committed to looking for new and innovative programs to help support our entrepreneurial ecosystem. A healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem is vital to the growth of Vermont’s small businesses.
The ThinkVermont Innovation Grant Program was created to respond to the growth needs of Vermont small businesses with 20 or fewer employees by funding innovative strategies that accelerate small business growth. The initiative will enable the State to invest in projects with grants that can be accessed more quickly and with fewer restrictions than traditional federal initiatives. The appropriation for this program is $150,000.
The overarching goal is to support innovative strategies that grow the economy and support vibrant communities while facilitating “testbed” approaches to create reproducible results throughout Vermont.
The ThinkVermont Innovation Grant Program is designed to fund projects in areas that have been identified as crucial to the growth needs of Vermont’s small businesses. These areas are those that:
- Provide workforce training and recruitment (not eligible for state or federal funding);
- Establish or enhance a facility (co-working, makerspace, innovations center, etc.);
- Enable or support broadband telecommunication access;
- Leverage federal funding (such as Small Business Innovation Research [SBIR] grants);
- Support growth in Aerospace, Aviation, or Aviation Technology; or
- Provide technical assistance to growing Vermont businesses.
The ThinkVermont Innovation Grant Program is designed to fund projects that will positively impact Vermont’s small businesses. A well trained and vibrant workforce, access to high-speed internet, and knowledgeable technical assistance are all essential to supporting a healthy entrepreneurial environment. In today’s changing economy people are changing how and where they work. Co-working, maker, and innovation spaces are essential to supporting how people are small businesses are choosing to work. The Small Business Administration administers the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant program. SBIR supports the commercialization of new technologies based on federal research and development. Several successful Vermont companies have leveraged this program and Vermont must help support business in leveraging this tremendous engine of new business creation. By focusing on these key areas, we can impact the entrepreneurial ecosystem and set Vermont on a path to future success.
The following is general information concerning the ThinkVermont Innovation Grant Program.
- Each grant recipient is required to provide a funding match of 100 percent of the value of the grant.
- Preference will be given to applications under $20,000.
- A grant shall provide funding in only one fiscal year.
- Recipients shall be eligible for a grant through the Initiative in not more than two fiscal years.
Applicants shall submit grant proposals via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Proposals should be no more than 3 double-sided (i.e., 6 single-sided) pages, and should include the following elements:
- Contact information
- Project overview (100-word count)
- Description of project objectives
- Timeline for project completion
- Narrative describing the perceived impacts of the project and how they align with the goals of the ThinkVermont Innovation Grant Program. Please include what measures you would use to evaluate success (should be data driven).
- Budget for how award money will be used to fulfill project objective(s)
- Proof of matching funds (letter of commitment)
- Letter(s) of support
- Review committee may request a presentation, by qualified finalists, “pitching” the project and offering an opportunity to further frame the objectives and measurable outcomes with the review committee.
- Application process will open on October 25th, 2018 and continue until all funding has been allocated.
- Questions may be submitted through November 8th, 2018. An FAQ will be posted on the program’s web page.
- Applications will be due on December 7th , 2018, no later than 4 pm EST.
- At the end of the process outlined, all applicants will receive an email indicating whether their application resulted in an award.
Eligible projects will help support one or more of the following:
- Providing workforce training and recruitment (not eligible for state or federal funding)
- Establish or enhance a facility (co-working, makerspace, innovations center, etc.)
- Enable or support broadband access
- Leverage federal funding (i.e. SBIR/STTR grants)
- Support growth in Aerospace, Aviation, or Aviation Technology
- Provide technical assistance to small business
- Methodology to measure success / impact of the initiative
- Project feasibility and readiness
- Experience of team or organization
- Potential impact on entrepreneurial ecosystem as pertains to small business growth.
- Geographic diversity