IBM, Tiffany, J&J among 16 vying to build $20M RI innovation campus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The R.I. Commerce Corporation said Friday it received 16 applications to tap $20 million in bond money for a new innovation campus in the state, with big names including IBM, Johnson & Johnson and Tiffany among those vying for the project.

The campus has been a long-cherished goal of Gov. Gina Raimondo, who campaigned on the idea in 2014. Models include New York City’s partnership with Cornell University on the new Roosevelt Island tech campus and South Carolina’s International Center for Automotive Research at Clemson University. Voters approved $20 million to help fund the project in the 2016 election, with the stipulation that the University of Rhode Island will partner with the winner.

“The strong response to the Innovation Campus competition confirms that Rhode Island has the talent, institutions, and resources to be a truly great hub of innovation,” Raimondo said in a statement. “The ultimate winners of this competition will expand our ability to help Rhode Island businesses grow and create jobs.”

Executive summaries of the proposals have been posted online. The applicants requested funding ranging from $1 million to $11.5 million; private matching funds are required to access the bond money. A committee of Commerce and URI officials is reviewing the proposals and is expected to announce a winner this summer.

Two proposals would pair IBM divisions with education partners. Others involve Schneider Electric and Intersection, a tech company funded by Google parent Alphabet; jewelry icon Tiffany and the Rhode Island School of Design; and Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy Synthes.

Here are all 16 groups that applied, as described by Commerce:

• Anbaric Development Partners (ADP), Tx Grid, Schneider Electric, Ramboll, Intersection (an Alphabet Co.), URI

• Arizona State University, URI, Ben Gurion

• Cambridge BioLabs, Wexford Science & Technology, URI

• IBM Alpha Zone, MassChallenge, First Data Corporation, Visible Systems, URI, Ben Gurion University, Brown University

• Entanglement Research Institute (eRi), AECOM, SENEDIA, D-Wave Government Inc., Rigetti & Co., Zapata Computing, Cisco Systems, Scepter Inc., Esri, Planet Defense, City of Newport, URI

• Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center, Raytheon Integrated Defense System, NUWC, SENEDIA, UTIC, High Performance Composites, URI

• Farming Turtles, Geremia Farms, URI

• DePuy Synthes Products Inc, (an affiliate of Johnson & Johnson), URI, RISD, Brown

• Loft, URI

• Polaris MEP, RI Marine Trades Association/Composites Alliance, RI Textiles Innovation Network, URI, Roger Williams University, RISD, AS220, IYRS, DESIGNxRI

• RI Mushroom Co., American Ag Energy Inc, Verinomics, URI

• Roger Williams Medical Center, Sorrento Therapeutics, PureTech Health, URI, Community College of RI

• Tiffany & Co., Saint-Gobain S. A., URI, Rhode Island School of Design

• Solielle Design Studio, Accurate Services Inc., Pallisades Mill, URI

• IBM Security, Infralinx Capital, Samach + SEO, URI

• SphereE, Smart Game Systems Inc., WIshKnish Inc., Focus Vision Media, Filarski Architects, URI

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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