by Tyler Hale
The Delta Innovation Fund (I-Fund) program is set to continue through October 2021 thanks to a Delta Regional Authority (DRA) grant.
Winrock International, which oversees and facilitates the Delta I-Fund program, received a $675,785 grant from the DRA to continue the business training program. The I-Fund program, which is modeled on the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program, is designed to provide resources and assistance to potential startups in the DRA’s eight-state, 252-county service region
The DRA services parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.
“Delta Regional Authority’s mission is to support economic development by making investments into industry-driven workforce training and human capital of the Delta region,” Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Chris Caldwell said in a statement. “The Delta I-Fund echoes this mission by providing a platform to foster homegrown talent, support innovation, and train entrepreneurs to positively impact growth in our communities.”
With the new grant, I-Fund program officials plan to impact 40 entrepreneurs during the funded period. The next program class, which starts March 2020, will feature 10 innovators. During the program, the entrepreneurs will receive 12 weeks of virtual training and professional guidance from mentors. In addition, participants will receive up to $7,500 in technical assistance for market research, prototyping and patenting.
Over the course of the Delta I-Fund’s operation, the program has impacted 82 startup companies in 20 DRA communities, working with 166 entrepreneurs. Of that total, 61 entrepreneurs have been women, 69 have been minority entrepreneurs and 61 entrepreneurs have come from communities with populations of less than 100,000.
“After two years of laying a foundation for a regional approach to supporting innovative ideas within the Delta Regional Authority territory, we are proud to continue partnering on an even more robust program that reaches the territory’s most marginalized communities,” Amy Hopper, Winrock’s I-Fund manager, said.
Applications are open for the I-Fund and are due by Feb. 23.
Click here to apply.