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U.S. Commerce Department Announces Launch of i6 Green Challenge to Promote Clean Energy Innovation and Economic Growth

U.S. departments of Agriculture, Commerce and Energy, along with the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation, support entrepreneurship initiative

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration (EDA) and its Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship today announced the opening of its $12 million i6 Green Challenge in partnership with the U.S. departments of Agriculture and Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, and Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. ‪
EDA will award up to $1 million to each of six teams around the country with the most innovative ideas to drive technology commercialization and entrepreneurship in support of a green innovation economy, increased U.S. competitiveness and new jobs. Its partner agencies will award more than $6 million in additional funding to i6 Green winners.

"Initiatives like the i6 Green Challenge support the president's vision for out-innovating the rest of the world by moving great ideas from the lab to the marketplace to spur the development of 21st century jobs and industries," U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. "We know that in the last 30 years, nearly all net new jobs were created by startups, and they will continue to play a critical role in our nation's economic prosperity."

First announced at the White House launch of Startup America in January, i6 Green follows last year's inaugural i6 Challenge to accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship in the United States.

"The $12 million i6 Green Challenge is an important component of President Obama's Startup America initiative to promote American innovation and win the future," said U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra. "The multi-agency competition builds on the success of last year's initiative by encouraging Proof of Concept Centers and promoting green growth to increase our nation's competitiveness and accelerate the economic recovery."

This year's competition focuses on promoting Proof of Concept Centers, which supports all aspects of the entrepreneurship process, from assisting with technology feasibility and business plan development, to providing access to early-stage capital and mentors to offer critical guidance to innovators. Centers allow emerging technologies to mature and demonstrate their market potential, making them more attractive to investors and helping entrepreneurs turn their idea or technology into a business.

"The i6 Green Challenge will help catalyze American ingenuity by leveraging the proven benefits that these centers offer to promote green growth, advance cluster development and strengthen the economic ecosystems of America's regions," U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez said. ‪

‪"The history of environmental protection has been a history of innovation, with new tools and technology that make everything we do cleaner and greener. American small business and startups have always been at the heart of our innovative capacity and continue to lead the way in America's world-leading environmental technology industry," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "We're proud to be working with our federal government partners to support new ideas and new products to grow our economy at the same time we clean up our environment."‪ ‪

EPA joined the i6 Challenge this year to support the development of technology geared toward protecting human health and the environment. EPA funding will be targeted to technology that has a high priority in those areas such as improving energy efficiency in water treatment, renewable energy from wastewater sludge and animal waste, and recycling of e-waste.  Funding will also broadly support actions to commercialize environmental technologies.

The Federal Funding Opportunity notice and application information on i6 Green is available at http://www.eda.gov/i6. The deadline to submit an application is May 26, 2011. Funding is contingent upon Congressional approval of the administration's 2011 budget.

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