The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the addition of seven new clusters to the portfolio of communities it supports through the Regional Innovation Clusters initiative. Regional Innovation Clusters are geographically-concentrated groups of interconnected businesses, suppliers, service providers and related institutions in an industry that drive innovation, job creation and help grow the economy.
“The SBA’s Regional Innovation Clusters connect and enhance innovation assets so that small businesses can effectively leverage them to commercialize new technologies and expand into new markets,” said SBA Associate Administrator for the Office of Entrepreneurial Development Allen Gutierrez. “The clusters initiative at SBA has helped foster innovations in their regions that ultimately have a global economic impact. These seven new clusters are particularly well suited to focus on rural small business creation that will bring much-needed education, training and expertise to support small business growth in rural locations across our country.”
The new SBA’s Regional Innovation Clusters are:
- Optics Valley, at the Arizona Technology Council
- The Great Plains TMC at the Kansas State University Technology Development Institute
- Montana Bioscience Cluster Initiative
- AgLaunch in the Mid-South Delta Agriculture Innovation Cluster, comprised of primarily rural counties in Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, and Tennessee
- The Utah Advanced Material Manufacturing Initiative (UAMMI), an advanced composites cluster with LSI Business Development and Grow Utah Ventures
- The Defense Alliance, Advanced Power and Energy Cluster (APC) in Minneapolis-St Paul, Minn.
- Conductor Regional Innovation Cluster in Healthcare, Education, and Data/Decision Sciences, a project of Startup Junkie, LLC, a Veteran-Owned Small Business, in Central Arkansas
The addition of these new clusters raises the total number of SBA-supported clusters to 14. The clusters exist to help small businesses thrive through purposeful, strategic and focused economic development. The clusters work together as networking hubs to maximize their resources, allowing them to compete on a larger scale. These new clusters will attract, create and grow new business startups throughout several regions of rural America, expanding the connectivity of technology and promoting business formation while fostering innovation, commercialization, business acceleration, mentorship and sustainability.
The SBA provided significant and intensive outreach to recruit new clusters, drawing an overwhelming response from a wide range of diverse geographic areas and industries. The response was further greatly enhanced due to the critical partnership between the SBA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
To learn more, get contact information or to obtain a complete list of SBA Regional Innovation Clusters, go to www.sba.gov/local-assistance.