Updated March 25 at 6:25am
innovation

Innovation Vouchers awarded to six companies by Commerce RI

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(Updated 9:36 a.m.)

PROVIDENCE – Six companies will share more than $275,000 through the next round of Innovation Voucher awards to leverage research and development partnerships with local universities or institutions: Aquanis LLC, MindImmune Therapeutics Inc., NanoSoft LLC, ProThera Biologics Inc., PowerDocks LLC and Videology Imaging Solutions Inc.

The awards, which represent part of $1.5 million allocated for the grant program, were approved by Gov. Gina M. Raimondo and the board of the R.I. Commerce Corp. at its meeting Monday night.

“When local companies are better able to partner with our universities, they can produce discoveries and advancements in science, technology, medicine and countless other fields that have the potential to grow jobs, strengthen our state, and build an innovation economy we can all be proud of,” Raimondo said in a statement.

Eleven companies received state Innovation Voucher awards earlier this year.

Here are details about the latest award recipients and their projects:

  • $50,000: Aquanis of North Kingstown is partnering with the Brown University Center for Computing and Visualization to develop an active flow control system that will improve the efficiency and extend the service life of wind turbines, leading to a reduction in the cost of wind energy. In the proposed project, the customized simulation software developed by Brown University researchers will provide information in the development, field trials and commercial deployment of Aquanis systems in the wind energy market.

  • $50,000: MindImmune Therapeutics in South Kingstown will work with the Comparative Biology Resources Center at the University of Rhode Island on new therapies for treating Alzheimer’s disease. The goal is to conduct testing of therapeutics to identify candidate drugs that can move into a clinical trial.

  • $49,814: Narragansett’s NanoSoft and URI’s Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Systems Engineering will partner to develop a prototype of their nanomaterial imaging technology with an improved control system and mechanical design that can be used in a lab setting to create enhanced fluid-based nanomaterial samples, providing insight for integration into products such as pharmaceuticals, consumer goods and chemicals.

  • $50,000: ProThera Biologics of Providence will work with intensive care unit patients at Rhode Island Hospital diagnosed with severe pneumonia to study the blood levels of inter-alpha inhibitor proteins. This project will support the planned clinical trials of inter-alpha inhibitor proteins replacement therapy to treat patients with life-threatening diseases.

  • $29,554: PowerDocks in Newport is working with Roger Williams University to integrate customized wireless charging functionality into micro-grid platforms. This will expand this product’s application to charging Unmanned Air Vehicles and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles for multiple industry markets.

  • $50,000: Videology Imaging Solutions of the Greenville section of Smithfield and Brown University will partner to explore biometrics imaging of the human iris with the ultimate goal of implementing iris feature extraction algorithms into its newest cameras. This will produce standard compliant images for biometric/iris analysis for cameras for government, defense, banking and medical applications.

The board also voted to award a Rebuild Rhode Island credit to support the redevelopment of the historic Sheffield School on Broadway in Newport into an innovation center targeted to entrepreneurs, innovators and small businesses working in the defense sector and allied industries, including underwater technologies and cybersecurity.

The city of Newport proposed a $7.1 million redevelopment of the nearly 34,000-square-foot Sheffield School, and the project represents collaboration between the city, Newport County Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Fund of Rhode Island.

“It’s exciting that this project will transform a former school into a new, vibrant co-working space and office complex for Newport and for Rhode Island,” Stefan Pryor, Rhode Island’s Secretary of Commerce, said in prepared remarks. “Congratulations to all involved, including the city of Newport, the chamber of commerce and EDFRI. Together, we are advancing Newport’s and Rhode Island’s economies.”

Project sponsors will receive a maximum of $2,128,123 in Rebuild Rhode Island Tax Credits, which will be issued over five years, according to Commerce RI.

In addition, the board approved a $200,000 grant to the North Providence School Department for the development of a Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) program next fall. The proposed program would offer two health care career pathways: a health management or health informatics pathway and a nursing pathway, Commerce RI said.

“The P-TECH initiative aligns the state’s education systems with the needs of today’s workforce,” Darin Early, Commerce RI president, said. “Through partnerships built between high schools, colleges, industry associations and businesses, the initiative provides students with the education and skills they need to succeed and gives employers a pipeline to the workforce of the future.”

The board authorized $200,000 grants to the Newport, Providence and Westerly public school districts to develop P-TECH programs in December 2015. These grants principally fund the salary for a P-TECH program director for up to the first two years of the program.

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