Sacred Heart University, through its “Nuestro Barrio” program, received a $95,000 contribution to create the first Innovation Seed Fund to support the sustainability and innovation of 16 small and medium enterprises in Santurce, the university’s President Gilberto J. Marxuach-Torrós announced.
The donation is made possible by a contribution from the Center for the New Economy’s Puerto Rico Recovery Fund, with the support of The New York Community Trust, The Puerto Rico Relief and Rebuilding Fund for the Partnership for NYC, and the Ford Foundation, which donated $75,000, and Boston Foundation, which contributed $20,000, for a total of $95,000 between the two entities.
“Sacred Heart strengthens its mission of service and social responsibility to its community through the ‘Nuestro Barrio’ community initiative, Marxuach-Torrós said. “We thank the Center for the New Economy and Boston Foundation for the support and confidence they placed in us and for believing in entrepreneurship as an engine for economic development for Santurce and Puerto Rico.”
CNE Executive Director Nuria Y. Ortiz said this initiative to help Santurce-based companies joins other efforts through which ReActiva provided cash assistance to more than 20 small business in Old San Juan to ensure the business continuity in the weeks after Hurricane María.
Of the 16 companies chosen to receive monetary assistance from the Fund, four are led by Sacred Heart students and provide various services ranging from cultural, tourism, welfare and food, as well as media content, art and technology.
These companies are Happy Potts, Markeholics, Santurce State of Mind (SSom), MC Cono Ice Cream, Tonos Entertainment, Resilience Journal, Picaflor Entertainment, Y No Había Luz, ACE Media, MECA, Sacred Heart Residents Association, RM Studio, Ismael Rivera Foundation, Integral Welfare, Cuadrado Gris and Diagonal.
“Through this initiative we seek to create opportunities for sustainable economic development solutions for artists and members of the community, while addressing critical issues related to quality of life in Santurce, one of the most emblematic districts of the capital,” said Javier De Jesús-Martínez, director of the Center for Innovation Collaboration-Neeuko at Sacred Heart University.
A comprehensive evaluation by a multidisciplinary committee was held to select businesses and distribute a total of $70,000 among the 16 selected to inject new economic, cultural and community activity to the neighborhood, he said.
Moreover, thanks to the economic contribution from the Puerto Rico Recovery Fund, companies will have access to co-working space, project management, consulting, and mentoring, and will participate in two training programs designed to strengthen their competencies and skills in entrepreneurship and innovation.
The first program will be the SEP-Sustainable Enterpreurship Program, aimed at the integration of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, as part of their business management practices.
The second program will be the IVRP-Innovation, Validation and Research Program, aimed at strengthening and developing skills and competencies in the development of metrics, processes and methodologies to support the viability of innovations and business proposals.