The Rhode Island Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a collaborative venture between the Brown Forum for Enterprise and the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, has been designated “Program of the Year” by the Northeastern Economic Development Association. The award recognizes the center as a valuable resource for both Rhode Island-based entrepreneurs and members of the Brown community.
“Entrepreneurism is the economic change agent of the 21st century. The RI-CIE has emerged as a model in its collaborative support of entrepreneurial development and, as such, NEDA is pleased to recognize it as its 2010 Program of the Year,” said L. Michael Ross, chair of the awards program, in a press release.
The center was selected for the award by a panel of judges, which comprised business professionals from 11 different states across the Northeast. The award will be presented to the center at the 2010 NEDA Conference in October, according to the press release.
The award is “validation that the concept of RI-CIE is correct,” said Brendan McNally, the center’s director. “It shows we’re doing the right things to support science and technology and promote economic development.”
According to the center’s website, the organization is a statewide venture that helps entrepreneurs, researchers and existing companies advance best-practice business models by diffusing ideas and information. The organization has aided the emergence of the knowledge economy in Rhode Island by supporting businesses in alternative energy, industrial design, health care and the physical sciences, according to the site.
Over the course of a year and a half, the center has offered workshops, networking opportunities and business development through mentoring. It has also opened an “office incubator,” which dedicates workspace adjacent to the center’s facilities to select business ventures, McNally said.
“We provide the resource and physical hub to help entrepreneurs,” he added.
Brown has played an active role in the development of the center by providing it with funding and managerial talent. In exchange, the organization has been working to provide entrepreneurship opportunities to faculty, students and alums.
The center has helped launch a number of businesses founded by professors and former students, according to McNally. It has worked with MicroTissues, a venture led by a professor to use 3-D cell cultures for scientific innovation, and NuLabel Technologies, a business run by former students that markets a new mailing label technology.
“We’d love to keep a lot of recent Brown students who would like these types of jobs,” McNally said. “We are looking to create a healthy commercialization environment to help graduates stay here in Rhode Island.”