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University of Puerto Rico gets $213K grant to support entrepreneurs crippled by COVID-19

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The University of Puerto Rico’s (UPR) Center to Foster Innovation and Commercialization, known as I+CARE program, has received $212,828 from the Economic Development Administration’s “Scaling Pandemic Resilience Through Innovation and Technology” (SPRINT) Challenge, the federal agency announced.

The UPR will get another $53,281 in local matching funds, the EDA announced.

The I+CARE program “will adapt its programming for virtual and socially distanced delivery to support local entrepreneurs affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to pivot and excel in this new environment, helping Puerto Rico recover and build a more resilient economy,” the EDA said upon awarding the funding.

Participants in the I+CARE program will gain market knowledge by exploring the needs of people with disabilities and the aging as opportunities for innovation, entrepreneurship, and inclusion.

The project leaders will collaborate with the Puerto Rican Assistive Technology Program, UPR School of Architecture’s Fabl.ab, and industrial designer Jeff Feng (University of Houston) to workshop product design, prototyping and fabrication of low­ cost devices for disability and aging markets.

“Entrepreneurs negatively affected by the coronavirus, particularly those in Opportunity Zones, will be provided with training and mentorship. The local startup ecosystem partners will collaborate in open, online events focusing on innovation and accessible technology to quickly respond to the COVID crisis and become resilient,” the EDA said.

Teams from Polytechnic University Industrial and Biomedical Engineering programs, and referrals from partners will also be mentored, the EDA said

Promising low-cost technologies that help people with disabilities and the aging/elderly protect their health, independent living and livelihood in the coronavirus pandemic will receive tailored support to accelerate development and commercialization.

SPRINT Challenge awardees are leading projects that address the economic, health, and safety risks caused by the coronavirus pandemic through regional innovation and supporting the growth of scalable, technology-driven businesses.

This national competition was designed to support the development, creation, or expansion of programs that accelerate technology-based economic development and respond to the challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The EDA stated that grantees presented a clearly defined strategy to leverage grant funds to support one or more of the following activities to help address the needs of and unique operating environment necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic:

  • Scaling biotechnology, health security, and supply chain technologies to market;
  • Increasing regional, national, and government connectivity to support commercialization and entrepreneurship;
  • Developing new and unique investment capital models to address the financial needs of entrepreneurs; and,
  • Developing and scaling entrepreneurship support models to address the virtual and remote work environment of the pandemic.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.
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