Grant Awarded to URIRF to Launch RISE-UP Initiative

Jun 15, 2023 | News

University of Rhode Island Research Foundation Awarded a $2.4M Grant to Launch “RISE-UP” Initiative, Catalyzing Blue Economy Dual-Use Entrepreneurship & Innovation

The University of Rhode Island Research Foundation (URIRF) has been awarded a $2.4 million grant by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to develop and advance blue economy, marine and energy technologies and opportunities that strengthen the Rhode Island’s economy and its workforce. The funding establishes a new initiative, “RISE-UP” (Resilient Innovative Sustainable Economies via University Partnerships), in collaboration with the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and the University of Hawai’i.

RISE-UP leverages the complementary technical expertise among the three universities, which are similar in mission and geographic contexts, to develop entrepreneurial skills and catalyze innovation.

“The Ocean State has an ocean of opportunity when it comes to growing our Blue Economy and this is a smart federal investment to help accelerate progress through innovation and collaboration with other coastal states and universities. It will help bring together leading researchers, academics and industry partners to collaborate on opportunities to develop and commercialize scalable technologies related to energy, marine technology, and more,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a senior member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

The goal of RISE-UP is to bring “dual-use” products and technology to commercialization, launching new business ventures that will have a positive impact on the economies of Rhode Island, Alaska and Hawai’i.

“We want to thank Senator Reed for his continued thought leadership supporting Rhode Island innovation in dual use applications to improve our national security. The RISEUP program has a unique opportunity to accelerate technology commercialization in states connected to different ocean environments and solve global challenges for both military and commercial applications” said Christian Cowan URI Research Foundation and 401 Tech Bridge Executive Director.  “Increasing technology-based ventures with URI student faculty teams and connecting to Alaska and Hawaii ecosystems will provide a new vision to solve large problems.

RISE-UP programs will focus on:

  • Developing technical solutions to mission critical needs
  • Cross-disciplinary education and experiential training in innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Collaboration among world-class research facilities, faculty, students and industry in all three states

RISE-UP programs are being cooperatively built hosted and iterated with the University of Rhode Island to facilitate relevant skills and an entrepreneurial culture, said Cowan. RISE-UP will be managed by 401 Tech Bridge, a business unit of URIRF and implemented in partnership with URI by Program Executive, Pete Rumsey.

“As a public land-grant research university, it is not only our mission to educate the technological workforce for the state of Rhode Island but also to transform our intellectual property into commercializable enterprises that create jobs” said Anthony Marchese, University of Rhode Island Dean of Engineering.  “RISEUP will be instrumental in supporting that mission and we can’t wait to get started.”

There are four RISE-UP sub-programs which offer cross-disciplinary “lean launchpad” process-based training that sustainably supports next generation talent.

The sub-programs include:

  • Pathways to Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Defense (PIE-D), a semester-long program focused on industry identified mission problem sets.
  • URI Patents2Products, a year-long fellowship on innovation and entrepreneurship for URI graduate students and post-doctoral researchers to acquire the tools necessary for launching a successful startup. 
  • Ideation Studio, focused on accelerating the growth of start-up companies with a target goal of developing a minimum viable product (MVP) in the hands of early adopters with an established product-market fit.
  • RISE-UP Faculty Fellows, to establish an active network of colleagues integrating entrepreneurial mindsets into their teaching and research.

Additional details and timelines for these programs will be announced in June 2023.

About URI Research Foundation

The URI Research Foundation (URIRF) oversees market analysis, commercialization of protected intellectual property, and the development of business relationships with corporate and government partners. These commercialization activities advance Rhode Island’s economy, while improving society and developing individual potential. URIRF business units include 401 Tech Bridge ( and Polaris MEP ( Additional information on URIRF can be found here

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