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The White House is set to unveil the companies winning of millions in challenge money to foster the development of new commercial technology in their geographic regions. The move is part of the Obama administration's strategy to work with the private sector and to use challenges and prizes to foster technology innovation, as well as to spur new business ideas and stimulate economic growth.
Through the i6 Challenge -- administered by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) of the Department of Commerce -- the administration will award up to $1 million to each of six winning teams with innovative ideas that drive technology commercialization and entrepreneurship in different regions.
The National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation also are sponsoring the challenge. They will award a total of up to $6 million in supplemental funding to the Small Business Innovation Research grantees that are associated with or partnered with the winning teams.
The challenge is based on the administration's support of so-called regional innovation clusters -- geographic concentrations of companies and industries that do business together and share common needs for talent, technology and infrastructure, according to a White House blog post.
The clusters are meant to develop existing industries and resources in regional areas to foster a creative environment and knowledge sharing as a way to keep jobs, such as those in the technology sector, in the U.S., according to the post.
Through campaigns like Educate to Innovate, the Obama administration overall is promoting more research, education and development in technology and engineering as a way to make the U.S. more competitive overseas.
In two other cluster challenges -- the Regional Cluster Initiative and Advanced Technology Initiative -- the Small Business Administration is set to award 10 winners $600,000 each. The awards support small businesses as part of regional innovation clusters, particularly in the area of technology development.