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Round Three of i6 Challenge to Spur High-Growth Entrepreneurship

Mark Marich

The White House is getting attention recently for its efforts at X Prize style competitions—which makes sense since its ‘assistant director for grand challenges’ is a former X-Prizer. One of the challenges at the heart of that approach is its i6 Challenge—a $6 million competition that “seeks to develop Proof of Concept Centers and create a network of experts to support innovators and researchers; spur sustainable startups, small businesses, and new ventures; expand access to capital to fuel growth; connect mentors and education to entrepreneurs; and spark job creation.”

The i6 Challenge is a multi-agency collaboration led by the U.S. Commerce Department Economic Development Administration’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship along with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Earlier this year, a handful of i6 winners visited Capitol Hill to share their progress.

Six winning teams will be announced in September, each awarded up to $1 million each to create and expand Proof of Concept Centers. In promoting the Challenge, EDA is holding up several existing proof-of-concept centers as shining examples: the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts; the William J. von Liebig Center at the University of California, San Diego; and the Stevens Institute for Innovation at the University of Southern California.

The application deadline is July 20, 2012—additional details are available at

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