Facilitated by the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, the Innovation Voucher program was created to increase research and development work in the Ocean State.

In its second year, the program provides enterprises employing less than 500 workers with grants of up to $50,000, to fund said research and development work with a Rhode Island research facility, university or medical center.

“Our Innovation Grants give startups the spark they need to turn their ideas into businesses,” Governor Gina Raimondo has said of the program. “Our state is on the move.”

Gov. Raimondo: Rhode Island is ‘On the Move’

This year, there have been more than 20 startups to receive these grants — and 2017 isn’t over yet. We’ve highlight half, below, industry-by-industry, with a second part chronicling the rest.


Data Analytics

  • Pet Tech, LCC
    • HQ: Providence
    • Mission: “Operating at the intersection of the tech and pet industries, Pet Tech, LLC is developing smart home technologies driven by the combination of internet of things, artificial intelligence, data- mining, and robotics.”
    • Research Partnership: Kunal Mankodiya, Biosensing Laboratory, University of Rhode Island
    • Funding Amount: $50,000
    • Allocation of Funds: “Pet Tech will work with the Biosensing Laboratory at the University of Rhode Island to hone technical specifications for the company’s Pet Rover device, to support the development of the core-embedded systems module for navigation and control commands,” a press release states.

Ed Tech

  • T-Time Productions LLC

    • HQ: Pawtucket
    • Mission: “T-Time Productions is designing and prototyping a racial, ethnic and gender relevant digital subscription-based curricula to support academic excellence in the increasingly diverse K-12 population.”
    • Research Partnership: David Johnson, Game Design and Development, New England Institute of Technology
    • Funding Amount: $30,000
    • Allocation of Funds: “With this funding, T-Time will work with New England Institute of Technology to enhance the product design and to increase student engagement via animation, gamification and translation for ELL students,” a press release states.

Health Care

  • Sproutel, Inc.
    • HQ: Providence
    • Mission: “At Sproutel, we employ an empathy-driven design process to scope, develop, and launch products that help children build a foundation for healthy lives.”
    • Research Partnership: Bertram Malle, Brown University
    • Funding Amount: $50,000
    • Allocation of Funds: “The effectiveness of the current iteration of Jerry the Bear and the new prototype will be tested against one another, and against participant baselines regarding diabetes management prior to receiving Jerry the Bear,” a press release states. “This research will help Sproutel expand the Jerry the Bear platform, and help the team gain knowledge regarding its psychosocial benefits.”

This Startup’s Interactive Bear Teaches Diabetic Kids How to Cope with Illness

Health and Wellness

  • CoreMechanics, LLC
    • HQ: Narragansett
    • Mission: “The company’s initial product, CoreForm (patent pending), is designed to improve core muscles from the neck to lower back, enhance posture and spinal/shoulder alignment, improve balance, and increase circulation.”
    • Research Partnership: Dr. Jeff Konin, University of Rhode Island
    • Funding Amount: $50,000
    • Allocation of Funds: “URI’s College of Business Administration, specifically the textile department, will be providing needed industry standard testing on the garment portion of the product,” a press release states. “The engineering department will test specific pressures exerted on and from the human body while wearing the garment. The physical therapy department will be testing CoreForm on a student and patient population. CoreMechanics is a health & wellness company that is developing wearable exercise products for daily use in prevention and stabilization of musculoskeletal injury.”

Life Sciences

  • Medley Genomics, Inc
    • HQ: Providence
    • Mission: “Medley Genomics is developing novel approaches to define genomic heterogeneity is disease.”
    • Research Partnership: Murray Resnick, MD/PhD, Rhode Island Hospital
    • Funding Amount: $50,000
    • Allocation of Funds: “Funds will be used to partner with Rhode Island Hospital to acquire and analyze key data from primary and metastatic tumors to validate the software in a clinical setting,” a press release states.

Milos, Medley Genomics: We’re Coming for You, Cancer

  • Vacuum Processing Systems, LLC

    • HQ: East Greenwich
    • Mission: “Vacuum Cycle Nucleation (VCN) is the most exciting advancement in industrial cleaning since the introduction of ultrasoncis,” its website states. “VCN provides superior performance in both aqueous and solvent applications.”
    • Research Partnership: Geoff Bothun, University of Rhode Island Chemical Engineering
    • Funding Amount: $50,000
    • Allocation of Funds: “Electron microscopy and X-ray spectroscopy instrumentation available at the University of Rhode Island will allow the company to evaluate the capability of their process to clean both internal and external surfaces of complex devices at a higher level than current techniques,” a press release states.

Manufacturing

  • Desmark Industries, Inc.
    • HQ: Cranston
    • Mission: “Desmark Industries will investigate, design and test textile composites for body armor focusing on research, development, materials selection, and testing methods in creating wearables for security and military force protection during engagement, which may include non-weapon combat, knife attacks, and bullets.”
    • Research Partnership: Bahram Nassersharisf, University of Rhode Island
    • Funding Amount: $49,896
    • Allocation of Funds: “The goal is to research and investigative current literature related to methods and technologies to stop multiple threats,” a press release states. “It is anticipated that this solutions approach will take advantage of a variety of materials and lamination technologies to be identified and studied for product development.”
  • Cooley Group
    • HQ: Pawtucket
    • Mission: “Our research and development team can combine a wide variety of fibers (nylon, polyester, Kevlar, etc.) and formulate the specific polymer chemistry for your customized product to improve efficiency and performance,” its website states.
    • Research Partnership: Dr. Kunal Mankodiya, University of Rhode Island
    • Funding Amount: $50,000
    • Allocation of Funds: “This project centers around the concept of smart billboards and how they can be developed to address market demands in an era when urbanization is at its fullest expansion, and when cities are seeking smart technologies such as internet-of-things to autotomize various operations,” a press release states.

Marine/Naval R&D

  • BluSource Energy Inc.
    • HQ: Bristol
    • Mission: “BluSource Energy Inc. has the unique ability to take a client’s idea for a product or system and perform the brainstorming, FMEA, engineering, design, fabrication, and assembly to create a full size working prototype capable of real-world testing and operation,” its website states.
    • Research Partnership: Jennifer Franck, PhD, Brown University
    • Funding Amount: $50,000
    • Allocation of Funds: “BluSource Energy partnered with Brown University on the development of the Leading Edge Oscillating Foil (LEOF), a new technology to harvest tidal energy,” a press release states. “BluSource has determined that the oscillating foil could readily be repurposed for marine propulsion. … Continued work with Brown University will focus on the silent operation and high efficiency of electric powered oscillating foils for the propulsion of automated underwater vehicles (AUVs) and specialized military craft.”
  • Navatek, Ltd.
    • HQ: South Kingstown
    • Mission: “Navatek is a world leader in designing and analyzing ship hull forms, ocean structures, underwater lifting bodies, and coupled hydrodynamic systems using its expertise in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and complex engineered systems,” its website states.
    • Research Partnership: David Taggart / George Tsiatas, University of Rhode Island
    • Funding Amount: $50,000
    • Allocation of Funds: “Navatek, Ltd. will draw on the University of Rhode Island’s mechanical and structural engineering expertise to help develop a better computational methodology for new and increasingly innovative designs of drop stitch inflatable structures,” a press release states.

Pharmaceuticals

  • NanoDe Therapeutics, Inc.
    • HQ: Barrington
    • Mission: “(NanoDe) is a development stage company dedicated to developing delivery of RNAi (RNA Interference) therapeutics, thereby creating more effective drugs.”
    • Research Partnership: Hongchuan Yu, PhD, Rhode Island Hospital, Orthopaedics Department
    • Funding Amount: $50,000
    • Allocation of Funds: “Working with Rhode Island Hospital, NanoDe will learn how to best optimize the physical attributes of the NP to achieve the highest efficacy and minimal toxicity of the RNAi therapeutics, thereby developing the first disease-modifying drugs to treat rare bone cancer, post-traumatic osteoarthritis, and other challenging indications,” a press release states.