Governor McKee and RI Commerce Announce New Recipients for Innovation Vouchers and Open Application Period for Network Matching Grants  



PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Governor Dan McKee today announced that the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation Board of Directors has approved three Innovation Vouchers totaling nearly $225,000. 


“When we meet businesses where they are and support their continued growth, we see a tangible and sizable impact. These programs work to help businesses achieve innovative breakthroughs while supporting their ability to continue their business development,” said Governor Dan McKee. “From a novel rescue kit for opioid overdose to an improved manufacturing process for next generation warfighter gear to robots that collect data in the ocean, Rhode Island is investing in the future through the Innovation Initiatives.”  


Innovation Vouchers are grants for small business research and development conducted in partnership with a local “knowledge provider” (typically an institution of higher education) or in-house for manufacturers. They are part of two Innovation Initiatives. The other being Network Matching Grants, which support intermediary organizations working to provide Rhode Island’s small businesses with technical assistance, access to capital, or space on flexible terms. 


“Rhode Island is a hub of creativity and ingenuity," said Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Liz Tanner. "Through our Innovation Initiative program, we are funding Rhode Island businesses, empowering them to innovate and expand. By increasing our investment this year, we're laying a strong foundation for new product development and company growth, which in turn, opens doors for good-paying job opportunities and boosts our economy. We look forward to seeing the ventures that will stem from this support, enhancing Rhode Island's standing as a leader in innovation.”


In FY24, the General Assembly approved the Governor’s request to increase funds for Innovation Initiatives from $1 million to $2 million, as well as increase the maximum Voucher award from $50,000 to $75,000. This reflects the higher demand for these programs in recent years. To date, the Innovation Initiative program has awarded a total of 118 Innovation Vouchers to 95 recipients which have collectively created 315 new jobs, and 36 Network Matching Grants to 24 recipients between FY 2016 and FY 2022.   


Innovation Vouchers Awards:


Nimbus Research Laboratory, LLC – Manufacturing Voucher - $74,876

To fund modifications to the existing AdvanceBox prototype system based on end-users' feedback from several pilot sites. The updated AdvanceBox strategy is to commercialize a smart container system that comprises of public rescue tool storage linked to learn-ahead instructions that expand community access to critical lifesaving equipment and capabilities; cellular IoT technology with image capture for remote supply monitoring; and rescue tool supply assurance through an integrated infrastructure. Building on NaloxBox and NaloxBox+ experiences, the project team has successfully developed AdvanceBox EVT prototypes (v1.0 and v1.1) which feature electromechanical smart locks," a cellular network-based communication mechanism. 


Jaia Robotics – Knowledge Provider Voucher with Roger Williams University - $74,535

To fund access to the Roger Williams University Aquatic Diagnostic Lab to automate the eDNA pathogen detection process for aquaculture and other fisheries. Jaia Robotics engineers will design sensor extensions and board modifications to be able to add water collection and filtration capability to the JaiaBot. The production team will design vehicle modifications to incorporate appropriate mixed cellulose filters and a peristaltic pump to collect samples for eDNA analysis. Jaia will provide operational and training support, so the RWU aquatic lab staff is able to create missions, deploy bots, collect, and retrieve data for lab analysis of the samples. 


Kinesia, Inc. – Knowledge Provider with URI - $75,000

To partner with the University of Rhode Island’s College of Engineering to study design options, develop a prototype and create a system integration and control algorithm for a proprioception/perturbation device for human rehabilitation through stimulation of various reflexes and movement patterns. This device will have applications in orthopedic and neurologic rehabilitation, fall prevention, vestibular, balance and proprioceptive testing and training and the sports-performance and fitness industries. 



Applications for Network Matching Grant Program are now open. The program provides matching grants of at least $50,000 to Rhode Island non-profit organizations, for-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, and/or co-working space operators who are supporting advanced industries, opportunity industries, and local-serving industries in the state. This includes industries like life sciences, technology, defense, and the blue economy. Eligible entities must provide technical assistance, create or expand access to capital, and/or provide space to be used by businesses on flexible terms. Applications are due by November 27, 2023 at 2:00 PM.  



The Innovation Voucher program is designed to help spur innovation in the local economy by funding up to $75,000 for research and development. The program pairs small Rhode Island businesses with local knowledge partners like colleges, universities, and hospitals. Manufacturers may also use vouchers for internal R&D. Innovation Vouchers can be used for support toward commercializing a new product, process or service; access to scientific, engineering and design expertise that fits an innovation need; technological development and exploration to make an innovation come to life; and/or scale-to-market development of an innovative idea. Applications for the Innovation Voucher are on a rolling basis.  


More information on both of these programs and access to the applications can be found at  


For additional information, contact RI Commerce Corporation Innovation Team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 401-278-9100.