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KINGSTON, R.I. – The University of Rhode Island Research Foundation is one of 60 national finalists competing for up to $100 million in American Rescue Plan funds Build as part of the Back Better Regional Challenge.

The foundation, in conjunction with Rhode Island Commerce and a regional team focused on the growing ocean-based blue economy, was chosen from a pool of 529 applicants by the U.S. Economic Development Administration as a finalist in the nationwide Build Back Better Challenge.

Rhode Island will receive a phase one planning grant of $500,000 to develop and support three to eight distinct and meaningful projects to grow its Blue Economy Technology Cluster, using a variety of new water-based “blue” technology capabilities.

With the phase one funding, the URI Research Foundation will work with RI Commerce and a coalition of government, academic, equity and industry partners to develop infrastructure needed to meet the goals of the coalition.

Phase 2 of the challenge will award 20 to 30 of the regional coalitions up to $100 million to implement their proposed projects. The deadline for Phase 2 proposals is March 15, 2022. Finalists’ projects span 45 states and Puerto Rico.

The projects represent industry sectors that are unique to each region, including advanced manufacturing; aerospace and defense; agriculture and natural resources; biotechnology and bio-manufacturing; energy and resilience; health care and digital health; information technology; transportation; construction and logistics; and water and blue economy.

The URI Research Foundation, also known as URI Ventures, partners with businesses and government to advance initiatives that improve Rhode Island’s economy and benefit society.

“This is an exciting time for URI,” University of Rhode Island President Marc Parlange said. “We have the resources to support technology and growth while building a robust pipeline of jobs. We have spent years building a network of partners, serving as a bridge between industry and government through vital and impactful translational research. This grant will not only accelerate the work we are currently doing but it will position URI as a powerful engine, fueling the blue economy in the state and the region.”

Gov. Dan McKee said that if selected, the proposals in the blue economy and biosciences will make the state more competitive in those industries and create high-paying jobs.

“I thank the team of partners for their work crafting this strong proposal and our congressional delegation for their strong advocacy on behalf of the Ocean State,” McKee said.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce and former Rhode Island Gov. Gina M. Raimondo announced the 60 finalists on Monday.

“The Build Back Better Regional Challenge aims to supercharge local economies and increase American competitiveness around the globe,” Raimondo said. “The outpouring of interest in this program shows the demand for the Build Back Better agenda and the desire to not only create good-paying jobs, but also strengthen our country’s economic resiliency for years down the road.”

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