Energy, agriculture entrepreneurs invited to vie for $25K in grants

Published 2:32 pm Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Press release from Mississippi Public Universities

Advancements in the energy and agriculture sectors help make lives more comfortable, flavorful and efficient, but shepherding the advancements from the idea stage to the marketplace takes hard work and resources. The Mississippi Development Authority is seeking to help entrepreneurs in these sectors through the Mississippi Virtual-Quad grant program.

Teams of high school and college students, university or community college faculty, for-profit businesses, non-profit organizations, public-sector employees or any combination of these individuals, are invited to apply for five $5,000 stage-one venture development grants. Recipients of stage-one grants will also participate in a 10-week technology accelerator program and will be eligible to pitch their venture to compete for grants in stage two. Applications are available online. The deadline to apply is March 31, 2021.

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“The Mississippi Virtual-Quad Grant Program is a great example of public and private entities coming together to support the state’s next generation of entrepreneurs,” said Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr., Commissioner of Higher Education. “The resources provided through the program will help these innovators advance their ideas to the next level and we appreciate the leadership provided by the Mississippi Development Authority and the participation of our fellow members in the consortium.”

Supported by the EPIC Prize from the U.S. Department of Energy, V-Quad’s goal is to build an innovative, virtual incubator network to support Mississippi’s entrepreneurs working on energy- and agriculture-related technologies. The program is public-private partnership that brings together Mississippi’s research universities, industry, government and non-profits into a cohesive, tech-based entrepreneurial network.

The program includes a consortium with the Institutions of Higher Learning, the Mississippi Development Authority, Innovate Mississippi and the four research universities, including Jackson State University, Mississippi State University, the University of Mississippi and the University of Southern Mississippi.

“Energy and agriculture are vital sectors to Mississippi’s economy and future growth,” said John Rounsaville, executive director of MDA. “These grants will help foster that growth and support entrepreneurs with new or expanding businesses. This program also encourages partnerships with MDA, Innovate Mississippi and our research universities.”

Resources available to teams participating in the program include access to business and technical mentoring, researchers and subject matter experts, laboratory space at the state’s research universities, and the ability to connect with local and national energy and agricultural entrepreneurial networks.

Focused on “Inclusive Innovation,” the program is seeking applications from a diverse range of individuals. Minority and rural entrepreneurs are strongly encouraged to apply.

Teams working on innovations to improve any facet of the energy or agriculture supply chain are invited to apply. Advances in other sectors that impact energy or agriculture, including information and communication technologies, robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, unmanned aerial and terrestrial vehicles may be explored. Projects may also focus on using digitalization to improve the energy and agriculture infrastructure. These may include energy storage, transmission and distribution, distributed generation, solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, biomass, bluetech, process safety, security, energy efficiency, marine energy, crop yields, crop and animal health, process monitoring, personnel training, farm devices, geospatial applications, and innovative financing for these technologies.