SBA Announces New Solicitation to Expand Funding for Regional Innovation Cluster Network

  Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the voice in President Biden’s Cabinet for America’s more than 33 million small businesses, announced a new funding solicitation for the SBA’s Regional Innovation Cluster (RIC) Initiative that will make awards for the first time at two funding levels: emerging and mature clusters. The RIC solicitation will open on July 1, 2024, and will close on July 26 at 1:00 PM ET.

“President Biden is delivering historic Investments in America that continue to strengthen innovation, supply chains, and new industries, as well as spark a small business boom with 18 million new business applications filed,” said Administrator Guzman. “The SBA’s Regional Innovation Cluster Initiative provides communities with funding to spur further development of industry-focused entrepreneurship ecosystems that support small businesses developing and commercializing critical technologies in key areas, such as developing safe, secure, and trustworthy AI. Our two new funding levels will support both emerging and mature industry clusters and help ensure small business innovators have access to the technical assistance, industry knowledge, and capital products necessary to start and grow their businesses.”

The SBA launched the RIC Initiative in September 2010 to promote and support the development of clusters, which are geographically concentrated groups of interconnected businesses, suppliers, service providers, and associated institutions in a particular industry or field across the country. Clusters act as a networking hub for small businesses, convening several resources to help navigate the funding, procurement, and supply-chain opportunities in a specific industry. They also assist businesses in matching cutting-edge technology to industry needs and increase the number of innovative small businesses and entrepreneurs in the nation’s supply chain.

Emerging clusters develop and deploy small business support services in their designated regions and industries, and the RIC Initiative enables them to scale their current and future programming to reach more small businesses. Mature clusters have experience building and implementing programming to support small businesses, and the RIC Initiative enables them to increase the effectiveness of programming and operations to reach more small businesses and strengthen existing and new partnerships.

“The Office of Investment and Innovation catalyzes the development and growth of industry clusters across the country, and the new funding levels are part of our ongoing effort to right-size our support for industry clusters across their full life span,” said Associate Administrator Bailey DeVries.

The SBA’s Investment and Innovation Ecosystem Development in the Office of Investment and Innovation will host a webinar on July 9, 2024 at 3:00 PM ET to discuss the solicitation. Interested offerors also have until July 11, 2024 at 1:00 PM ET to submit any questions related to the solicitation to RICInitiative2024@sba.gov. All answers will be posted publicly to the solicitation page.

The solicitation is available at SAM.gov. Regional Innovation Clusters are established through contracts. Eligibility to apply is open to all non-profit and for-profit firms with an active SAM.gov registration eligible for federal contracts at time of offer.

To learn more about the RIC Initiative, including current RICs, please visit: Regional Innovation Clusters | U.S. Small Business Administration (sba.gov)