PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The Rhode Island Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship — RI-CIE, a new facility designed to help train and develop future entrepreneurs — will open its doors on Tuesday, April 28, 2009.
State and city officials, business and academic leaders will gather at 10 a.m. for the grand opening at One Davol Square, a building owned by Brown University, where RI-CIE will operate in about 5,000 square feet of space. The event will take place in the atrium on the building’s first floor, with participants including Gov. Donald L. Carcieri, Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline, and Brown University President Ruth J. Simmons.
RI-CIE’s grand opening comes after more than a year of planning and collaboration among government, academic, and business leaders. The Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation and Brown are working with the state, city, Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, and other partners to develop RI-CIE. Many other organizations including educational institutions, hospitals, and economic development groups have also expressed their support and will be engaged to help forge programs and activities. A stakeholder workshop to discuss future activities and further develop partnerships is planned for May 19, 2009, at the center.
Leaders of the RIEDC and Brown say that backing comes at a vital time.
“Creating a center that actively engages our entrepreneurs throughout our entire state while at the same time giving them the tools to succeed and grow their business here is an essential component in strengthening our economy,” said J. Michael Saul, RIEDC’s interim executive director. “A product of a strong collaborative effort between public and private entities, including academic institutions, RI-CIE will be critical to nurturing new ideas and the leaders behind them. The center is a cornerstone of the state’s efforts to identify and nurture our future entrepreneurs, to accelerate new business growth and to bring new, high-wage jobs to Rhode Island.”
Clyde Briant, vice president for research at Brown, added that the flow of new ideas is already underway in Rhode Island.
“Every year, researchers at Rhode Island’s colleges, universities, and hospitals conduct hundreds of millions of dollars worth of applied and basic research,” Briant said. “The new ideas are clearly there, and many of them have significant potential for social and economic progress. RI-CIE will help move useful ideas from the laboratory to the marketplace. That is an essential step in building our common future.”
RI-CIE is designed to be a center that supplies expertise to the state’s college and university faculties, as well as to researchers and entrepreneurs who want to launch new companies in Rhode Island, focused on high technology, life sciences, design or other knowledge economy businesses.
Cicilline said he sees RI-CIE as being an important building block for growing new jobs and businesses that will benefit the city and beyond.
“This will be a key asset in making the Jewelry District our central platform for growing 21st-century companies in Providence,” Cicilline said. “I am grateful to Brown and RIEDC for taking the lead on this Center and for being great partners in our vision for the future.”
RI-CIE, and the collaborative efforts it will help generate, will spur economic growth throughout the state, according to Carcieri.
“Innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship are critical to creating a strong economic foundation for Rhode Island,” Carcieri said. “I applaud Brown University and the leadership at the Economic Development Corporation for this joint venture to provide our future business leaders with the tools they need to grow their businesses, grow jobs and create new industries in Rhode Island.”
RI-CIE is part of a multiagency effort to grow new jobs and businesses in Rhode Island. The effort is meant to dovetail with city and state efforts already underway, such as the state’s Knowledge Economy Initiative. The initiative, which grew out of an October 2008 report released by the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, cited “strengthening entrepreneurial connectivity” as a key area of focus.
The Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, the Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council, and the Slater Technology Fund have supplied seed money for the venture, including a $100,000 investment for the first year of operations and $100,000 for the second. Brown will pay real estate and space costs plus staff salaries and benefits for the center’s first two years. RI-CIE is also seeking private-sector financing and sponsorships as it ramps up programs.
Background on RI-CIE
Location: One Davol Square, a Jewelry District property owned by Brown University
Size: Up to 5,000 square feet, with conference rooms, meeting spaces and room for expansion
Founding partners: Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, Brown University, Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council, Slater Technology Fund
Funding: $200,000 total for two years from Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, Rhode Island Science and Technology Advisory Council; and Slater Technology Fund; real estate and space costs, plus compensation for executive director and staff funded by Brown
Description: A community center for entrepreneurs, RI-CIE provides expertise to college and university faculty in Rhode Island and to researchers and entrepreneurs seeking to launch knowledge economy businesses.
Versatility: RI-CIE will work with existing economic development programs including Brown Forum for Enterprise, Slater Technology Fund, and the Economic Development Corporation’s RI-Nexus program.
Future plans: Partnerships with government and private-sector job development groups
Web Address: www.ri-cie.org