Funding Opportunity: EDA Releases New Funding for COVID-19 Entrepreneurship and Innovation Assistance

Funding Opportunity: EDA Releases New Funding for COVID-19 Entrepreneurship and Innovation Assistance

Lewis-Burke Associates LLC – October 16, 2020

As Lewis-Burke forecasted in June, the Department of Commerce’s (DOC) Economic Development Administration (EDA) has launched the Scaling Pandemic Resilience Through Innovation and Technology (SPRINT) Challenge, a new funding opportunity as a part of their efforts to “address the economic, health, and safety risks caused by the coronavirus pandemic.” The competition specifically aims to address regional innovation and entrepreneurship-related challenges and opportunities associated with the pandemic, including providing support for the commercialization of research and new technologies to address COVID-19 and creative efforts to promote innovation activities under current conditions.

Applicants for the challenge are expected to address “the needs and unique operating environment necessitated by the coronavirus.” Applications must also address the EDA’s Recovery and Resilience investment priority by including economic resilience and long-term recovery from natural disasters in project proposals in the context of their regional development needs.   Core areas of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Biotechnology, Health Security, and Supply Chain Innovation, including enabling regional innovation and entrepreneurship as it pertains to the development of research and prototypes into industries and technologies to address COVID-19, such as the commercialization of new personal protective equipment (PPE), testing, treatments, vaccines, and more.  This can include support for advisory services to improve commercialization; building bridges with government entities to expedite regulatory approval; developing plans to repurpose manufacturing spaces to support the production of in-demand medical supplies; and more.
  2. Regional, National, and Government Connectivity, including fostering collaboration between entrepreneurs, inventors, and manufacturers with the government (as customers and enablers), as well as improved connectivity between “economic development and technology commercialization resources across communities, regions, or clusters across multiple regions” to “address the shortages of entrepreneurship and innovation resources and support that resulted

from or were exposed by the coronavirus pandemic.”

  1. Access to Capital
  2. Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Interest areas 3 and 4 include pursuing new local innovation and entrepreneurship support and capacity-building efforts across sectors that are responsive to the conditions of the pandemic, such as virtual entrepreneurship training and resources (“Innovation & Entrepreneurship” thrust) or unique capital-raising campaigns, such as hybrid financing mechanisms (“Access to Capital” thrust). Projects can address one or more focus area and more complete examples of desired outputs and outcomes are provided in the full solicitation.

The SPRINT Challenge is funded through the $1.5 billion allocated to the agency through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to advance economic development in areas negatively impacted by COVID-19.  Due to this, certain CARES Act regulations for EDA investments apply, including alignment with Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) or other local economic development strategies, as outlined in the solicitation.  Also, applicants must “clearly demonstrate how the proposed project will help communities, regions, or clusters across multiple regions prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus” or respond to “economic injury as a result of coronavirus.”

Cost-share: As with other funding provided by the CARES Act, EDA generally expects to fund up to 80 percent of eligible project costs.  According to the solicitation, “EDA may establish a maximum investment rate of up to 100% for projects of Indian Tribes and for projects where the Assistant Secretary determines the applicant has exhausted its effective taxing or borrowing capacity.”

Total Funding and Award Size: EDA will allocate $25 million for grants funded at up to $500,000 over a 12-month performance period or up to $750,000 over an 18-month performance period.  Unlike similar EDA programs, for any specific project under this award, “EDA may approve an award amount that is higher or lower than requested and may approve a period of performance that is longer or shorter than originally requested depending on the nature of the proposed project and the availability of funds.”

Dates: Applications are due December 3, 2020.  An informational webinar is expected to be held on October 28th, 2020 at 2:00 pm EST.

Eligibility and Limitations:  Cities, counties, states, other political subdivisions of states, and Indian Tribes; public or private nonprofits; institutions of higher education; and EDA-Economic Development Districts are all eligible to apply.  Individuals and for-profit entities are not eligible to apply.

Sources and Additional Information