Washington to award $1 million in tech challenge

Department of Commerce launches "i6 Challenge," offering up to $1 million to each of six winning teams with best ideas to commercialize technology.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

In a bid to stimulate future jobs and industries, the U.S. Department of Commerce is offering a million dollar incentive for people who can come up with the best ideas to commercialize technology.

Economic Development Administration

Announced on Monday, the new i6 Challenge will award up to $1 million to each of six winning teams with the most creative ideas on how to make different innovative technologies profitable in their regions. Washington's goal is to ensure that the right technologies make the leap from the test lab to the marketplace to help the U.S. economy stay alive and competitive.

Run by the Economic Development Administration (EDA), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce's Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, the competition is open to nonprofit organizations with more than one person or any collection of nonprofits working together. That can include entrepreneurs, investors, universities, and foundations from across the U.S.

The EDA's Funding Federal Opportunity Notice (PDF) provides details on how interested parties can apply and what information needs to be in the application. But in a nutshell, applicants should demonstrate a clear understanding of a technological problem or need, a creative solution for resolving that problem, an awareness of the roadblocks facing high-tech innovators in their region, and a guideline for moving their own ideas from the laboratory to the business world.

Joining the Commerce Department as partners will be the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF), which have promised to kick in up to $6 million in additional prize money to any Small Business Innovation Research grantees who team up with the i6 Challenge winners in the competition.

The prize money will be awarded to at least one winning team from each of six different regions--Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Austin (Texas), Denver, and Seattle--encompassing the various states close to those cities.

A FAQ with current information on the challenge is available at the EDA Web site. The EDA will also hold a special conference call on May 17 with further details. Anyone interested in competing has until July 15 to submit an application but should send in a letter of intent by June 15. The EDA expects to announce the winners by October.