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Rhode Island Businesses Get Help from New Center

Posted on February 25, 2009

Two entities are teaming up to help Rhode Island businesses that are starting out.

The state Economic Development Corporation and Brown University plan to open the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which will help entrepreneurs start businesses. The EDC is putting $100,000 toward the center, while the Slater Technology Fund and the Science and Technology Advisory Council are fronting $50,000 each. The center will be located at 1 Davol Square, in a building owned by Brown.

Participants will pay fees for services offered at the center, which will eventually be subsidized by corporate sponsors, according to an article by The Providence Journal.

“We need more business starts in this state,” J. Michael Saul, acting head of the EDC, said in the article. “They’re singles and bunts, but we’re going to score runs that way.”

Although Rhode Island has often focused on convincing larger companies to move to the area, the only success story so far is Amgen Inc., which moved to the state in 2002. The state hopes focusing more on start-ups will help, although similar initiatives have been made in the past.

For instance, Johnson & Wales University operates a small-business development center. Also, the Science and Technology Advisory Council already gives out $1.5 million each year for research projects with commercial potential. The Slater Technology Fund, which is a source of venture capital backed by taxpayers, has $3 million to distribute each year to small life-sciences and information-technology firms. It also offers office space to start-up companies in Richmond Square.

Proponents of the project hope the center will give entrepreneurs a better chance in Rhode Island, while opponents think the private sector should be more involved.

Mystic River Press
Sun Chronicle
Johnston Sunrise
Cranston Herald
Sakonnet Times
Portsmouth Times
The Express