Main menu


Tech Accelerator Gets Federal Funding Injection

The Springfield, Randolph, and Rutland Technology Accelerator will receive $2.2 million from the federal government to support technology entrepreneurship.

The funding is from the Build to Scale program run by the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Development.

The Heartland-based Rural Innovation Center supported entrepreneurship and helped secure grants to create tech jobs in rural communities.

The center assesses the community’s potential to succeed as a rural hub for technology, said founder and executive director Matt Dunn. Matt Dunn is a former congressman and former Democratic governor.

“And Randolph’s assessment really showed that it was a great place,” said Erica Hoffman-Keith, executive director of Randolph-based Green Mountain Economic Development Corporation.

Hoffman-Kiess notes the town’s access to broadband, the presence of Vermont Technical College, the community’s investment in downtown revitalization, and its location roughly halfway between Boston and Montreal off Interstate 89. I mentioned

Black River Innovation Campus in Springfield and Chamber and Economic Development in the Rutland area will also receive funding.

Federal grants require a one-to-one match, Dunn said, and Gov. Phil Scott and Congress budgeted a $500,000 matching fund conditional on the grant.

“It speaks to the collaborative spirit of Vermont beyond the public and private sectors to enable this kind of work to be done and create the jobs of the future in rural Vermont,” Dunn said. I was.

The Springfield and Randolph organizations were jointly awarded $1.5 million in federal funding, according to Hoffman Keith.

The state will provide $333,000 in matching funds for these two projects, with the remaining $1.2 million in matching funds from individual donors, higher education partners, businesses, and Siegel, a national foundation focused on technology. From foundations including the Family Endowment. Chris Maggiolo, Deputy Executive Director of Black River Innovation Campus, said:

Dunne said the new grant will be used to expand the program at Springfield and launch a technology accelerator and incubator at Randolph. (He explained that incubators are physical spaces for startups, and accelerators are programs that help startups grow.)

The Economic Development Authority has given $734,000 to the Rutland Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development, Jepson said. He said his organization was able to raise an additional $759,000. Of that, $400,000 came from the City of Rutland, $166,000 from the state, and $45,000 from the Rutland Regional Medical Center.

Dunne said Springfield has been working on a technology accelerator for years, receiving its first Build to Scale grant in 2018 and what would later become an innovation campus in the Park Street School building. have started. Since then, Springfield has been successful in attracting technology start-ups and new company founders, he said.

After that initial grant, Springfield’s Black River Innovation Campus began renovating the old school building and launched some programming in 2019. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Maggiolo said the start of his incubator and accelerator program was postponed until 2021.

Since its launch, Black River Innovation Campus has worked with 16 startups, Maggiolo said. Additionally, the organization assists dozens of businesses within the community with digital outreach and hardware issues, connecting digital and technology experts with those in need of service.

Black River Innovation Campus received a $3 million budget secured by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and nearly $2 million more from the state earlier this year. Dunn said the money wasn’t used for programming, but for ongoing renovations of the campus and downtown buildings.

Black River Innovation Campus plans to use the latest grant to rotate four groups of entrepreneurs through the program each year, said interim executive director of the program and her own firm, Burlington-based GameTheory. founder Marguerite Dibble said.

Dibble grew up in Landgrove, where his parents were paint contractors.

“Growing up, I have this acknowledgment that it is incredibly difficult for someone living in rural Vermont to have a business that does not somehow support or feed the local economy of second home owners and tourism. I grew up with the truth,” Dibble said.

Times have changed. Dibble cited Springfield’s “superfast internet” as one of his ideal assets for a tech incubator.

At Randolph, Hoffman-Kiess envisions a cybersecurity partnership with Northfield-based Norwich University, the advanced manufacturing consortium of the Vermont Institute of Technology. She said she started working on the Vermont Institute of Technology campus and is looking to create her second conference space for outreach and virtual classes in the heart of the village.

Hoffman-Keith said, “It’s kind of a blend of those two things that seem irreconcilable. This bucolic countryside and the fairly high-tech thing that’s going on is part of the international market.” “And it’s happening in a small river valley in central Vermont.”

Rutland also has an opportunity to start a tech incubator.

Lyle Jepson, Executive Director of the Rutland Regional Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development, said:

Rutland’s business incubator will be housed in the Opera House, Merchants Row and nearby buildings, Jepson said.

“We have great availability of fiber optic internet,” says Jepson. “We have a downtown ready for this stuff. We want the whole downtown to be the hub.”

In addition to Rutland, Springfield and Randolph, the Center on Rural Innovation supports projects in Windham County and the Northeast Kingdom.

Want to stay on top of the latest business news? Sign up here to receive weekly emails on all of VTDigger’s reports on local businesses and economic trends. And check out our new business section here.