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First Flight Notches $450K Fed Grant

First Flight Venture Center (FFVC), a Research Triangle Park science and technology incubator for entrepreneurs, has been awarded a $450,000 challenge grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

FFVC was among 36 organizations, selected from a pool of more than 215 applicants, to receive a total of $15 million from the federal Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program.

“The RIS program advances innovation and capacity-building activities in regions across the country by addressing two essential core components that entrepreneurs need to take their ideas to market: programmatic support and access to capital,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.

The grant boosts FFVC’s new Hangar6, a shared, rapid prototyping facility to be open to all North Carolina science-based businesses. Three key project partners are behind FFVC’S Hangar6 Program: Alexandria Real Estate Equities (ARE), the NC Center of Innovation Network (COIN) and Eva Garland Consulting (EGC).

Hangar6 will offer participating companies access to a range of advanced equipment as well as expert services and will be supported by subscription fees to ensure its sustainability and growth. Hangar6’s capabilities will evolve over time, as they are adapted to clients’ needs.

“FFVC is honored to receive the i6 Challenge award for our newest program Hangar6,” said Mary Musacchia, chair of the FFVC board of directors. “With our partners COIN, ARE and Eva Garland Associates, we will be able to launch this program to further our vision of catalyzing high-science, high-impact entrepreneurial company success.”

Earlier in November, FFVC’s Workplace Immersion for New Generation Scientists (WINGS) program received $50,000 from the U.S. Small Business Administration. And two months earlier, NC IDEA named FFVC’s LiftOff program to be part of its Ecosystem Partner initiative.

 “FFVC has recognized that science-driven entrepreneurial companies have unique needs to help them become successful,” said Andy Schwab, FFVC President. ”These companies need highly specialized equipment and services in a shared prototyping facility. Here at FFVC, every day we see gaps in the resources in our community for these unique companies. Hangar6 is a pilot program to fill that gap as part of our mission to provide the tailored resources required by highly technical companies to become successful in the global marketplace.”

Joe Magno, executive director of COIN, added that "COIN is proud to be working with FFVC and its partners to keep North Carolina a leading state for the development of high-technology enterprises and STEMpreneurs.”

FFVC was established in 1991 to cultivate financially viable and freestanding businesses.

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