RHODE ISLAND FOUNDATION President & CEO Neil Steinberg speaks at Make it Happen R.I.
COURTESY THE R.I. FOUNDATION
By Patrick Anderson PBN Staff Writer
Things have been happening in Rhode Island since The Rhode Island Foundation’s two-day private-sector intervention in the Ocean State economy brought together stakeholders in early September.
The Founders League, an entrepreneurial incubator to succeed the departed Rhode Island Center for Innovation Entrepreneurship incubator, was formed by Betaspring, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Brown University and the University of Rhode Island.
The Slater Technology Fund organized the first innovation showcase for dynamic Rhode Island companies to feature their technology to investors, an idea spawned in the foundation’s Make It Happen RI business-environment forum.
BRIdge.jobs, an online internship exchange run by the R.I. Student Loan Authority – supported by local colleges and funded partially by The Rhode Island Foundation – was launched in response to the repeated concerns that the state’s college students flee after graduation for lack of opportunity.
Leaders of medical-device and technology companies are meeting regularly in a group organized by Ximedica Chairman Stephen Lane to discuss how to grow that industry in the state.
And a new investment group called Ocean State Angels has formed from the life science sector to finance and mentor new seed and early-stage medical and biotech companies.
Some of these developments grew directly out of the Make It Happen discussions, while others were already in the works and would have happened anyway.
But regardless of where the ideas came from, The Rhode Island Foundation wants them to continue and last week committed $1 million for ideas proposed at Make It Happen, while releasing a progress report highlighting what has been done and what top priorities described by attendees remain.
“We have no doubt there still needs to be a sense of urgency,” said Rhode Island Foundation Executive Director Neil Steinberg. “Even though we see positive signs, everyone acknowledges the bleak situation and that we need a jump-start.”
Despite the list of notable recent accomplishments, there are many ideas that drew strong support from Make It Happen attendees but have yet to be acted on.