Based on recommendations from a recent program participant survey, the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) announced today it will modify the Advanced Industry (AI) Accelerator Grant Program to better serve industry and to relieve some of the burden on the program's reviewers.
The survey, and focus group comprised of reviewers, applicants, and grantees, identified three major recommendation areas for the program. Recommendation areas include increasing awareness of the AI Grant program, building the AI Accelerator Grant network, and improving the AI grant application process.
"Although everyone agrees that the grant program is valuable and important to the growth of innovation and industry in Colorado, they also agree there are opportunities to improve the grant application and award process," said OEDIT executive director Fiona Arnold. "Conducting an evaluation of the program allowed us to identify areas of improvement and the recommendations were clear."
Based on the recommendations, OEDIT will reduce the number of grant cycles per year from three to two for Proof of Concept and Early Stage grants, and move to one annual grant cycle for the Infrastructure grant, effective immediately.
"These changes will improve an already very successful program by giving industry more time to create quality applications and ensure continued success for applicants and the State," said global business development director and OEDIT deputy director Michelle Hadwiger. "This will also ensure quality reviewers stay engaged by reducing the amount of time they have to commit to this program annually."
The AI Exports grant cycle will remain unchanged as it has a rolling application process, according to AI grant manager Katie Woslager.
OEDIT will also implement a new communications strategy based on the focus group's recommendations. Efforts will include creating a program blog and e-newsletter, video trainings, online webinars, branding web elements for grantee websites, and increasing the program's presence on social media.
OEDIT will also continue its educational AI road tour around Colorado visiting the northeastern part of the State in the fall to increase expose of the program in rural areas as recommended by survey participants.
The AI Accelerator Grant Program includes four types of grants - Proof of Concept, Early-Stage Capital and Retention, Infrastructure Funding, and AI Exports. The grant program was created in 2013 to promote growth and sustainability in Colorado's seven advanced industries by driving innovation, accelerating commercialization, encouraging public-private partnerships, increasing access to early stage capital and creating a strong infrastructure.
Since the inception of the program, over $41 million has been awarded to over 227 organizations, helping them to scale and find great success. To date, the program grants have contributed to the creation of 492 new jobs and approximately 592 jobs retained.
Colorado's Advanced Industries include aerospace, advanced manufacturing, bioscience, electronics, energy and natural resources, infrastructure engineering, and technology and information.
The economic impact of these industries accounts for nearly 30 percent of the State's total wage earnings, nearly 30 percent of the total sales revenue across all industries with in the State, and nearly 35 percent of the State's total exports.
Grant applications and fact sheets are available on the new OEDIT website at choosecolorado.com.