Regional Innovation Clusters Help Increase Startup and Small Business Participation in the U.S. Supply Chain
Today, Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the voice in President Biden’s Cabinet for America’s 33 million small businesses, announced four contract awards to small businesses and entrepreneur support organization (ESO) partners, expanding the SBA’s Regional Innovation Clusters to 16 hubs nationwide.
SBA’s Regional Innovation Cluster Initiative launched in September 2010 to promote and support clusters, which are geographically concentrated groups of interconnected businesses, suppliers, service providers, and associated institutions in a particular industry or field across the United States. Clusters act as a networking hub to convene several resources to help navigate the funding, procurement, and supply-chain opportunities in a specific industry.
“Regional Innovation Clusters are funded by SBA to help deepen our geographical reach and support innovative companies that are building technologies critical to our national security and economic competitiveness,” said Administrator Guzman. “As the Biden-Harris Administration invests in America, we are ensuring we can lead the world in emerging technologies while creating great companies and jobs in all corners of this country. Today’s awardees are doing just that by clustering industry partners to spur small business growth in agriculture, defense, cybersecurity, and smart sensing. The SBA will bring to bear its entire offerings to ensure small businesses have the capital, knowledge networks, mentors, and revenue growth opportunities to continue to power America’s economy.”
“Regional Innovation Clusters work directly with American innovators and entrepreneurs to forge connections, provide industry or technological subject matter experience, and assist with access to capital, customers, and contracts. We are incredibly excited to expand this important national innovation network and ensure innovative, high-growth businesses thrive in industries of national importance,” said Bailey DeVries, Associate Administrator for the SBA’s Office of Investment and Innovation.
Two contract awardees are new to the program in 2023, while two others are returning awardees, positioned with new contracts to continue and expand work in their respective regions.
2023 Regional Innovation Cluster Awards:
AgLaunch Engine and the Delta Cluster
AgLaunch Engine will continue its work under the RIC program through the Delta Cluster to support the growth and development of agriculture technologies (AgTech) in the mid-south Delta region. AgLaunch’s Delta Cluster will focus on providing support to the AgTech industry in 102 counties along the Mississippi River, encompassing counties in Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. Through the cluster, AgLaunch is focused on building a more robust and resilient food supply chain and advancing high growth opportunities in advanced robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence in Climate-Smart agriculture.
LSI Business Development and the Defense Alliance Cluster
LSI Business Development will continue its work under the RIC program through the Defense Alliance to support small businesses building defense technologies in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The primary mission of the Defense Alliance Cluster revolves around expediting the commercialization of technology products and services (principally in the high-technology defense sector). Simultaneously, Defense Alliance contributes to regional economic progress, including support for rural and disadvantaged communities, and bolsters the national technology base by providing support to hundreds of small businesses across the Upper Midwest region.
NTouch-BCT Strategies and the New Jersey Cybersecurity Regional Cluster
NTouch-BCT Strategies is new to the RIC program and will grow the New Jersey Cybersecurity Regional Cluster. The cluster focuses on providing cybersecurity assessments and supporting the growth of small businesses building cybersecurity technologies and services across Mercer, Middlesex, Union, Essex, and Hudson counties in New Jersey. The cluster is focused on supporting minority-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned small businesses.
Shadow Ridge Analytics and Smart Sensing Systems Cluster
Shadow Ridge Analytics is new to the RIC program and will set up a Smart Sensing Cluster in Southern Montana. The cluster will focus on building up the smart sensing cluster in the micropolitan statistical and rural areas in and around Bozeman, Butte, and Billings, Montana. The cluster anticipates smart sensing to be integral to supporting technology areas of national importance, including quantum information science and technology, artificial intelligence, and disaster prevention and mitigation, and intends to become the nationally recognized integrator of the smart sensing industry.
Regional Innovation Clusters are established through small business set-aside contracts. Eligibility is open to small businesses under the size standard of $19 million under NAICS code 541690, Other Scientific and Technical Consulting Services.
For more information on how to connect with a Regional Innovation Cluster, visit www.sba.gov/local-assistance/regional-innovation-clusters.