401TB Materials Innovation Challenge

materials innovation challenge

Supported by the EDA Sprint Challenge, the 401 Tech Bridge’s Materials Innovation Challenge is a funding program that helps Rhode Island companies leverage URI academic, R&D, and technology resources, to accelerate the development of advanced materials and technologies.

In 2022, the program will expand beyond the materials engineering faculty to include ocean engineering faculty.

How It Works

Piloted in 2021,  401 Tech Bridge launched the Materials Innovation Challenge as a funding program designed to help Rhode Island companies leverage research, validation, and testing resources at the University of Rhode Island to accelerate the development of advanced materials and technologies.

Companies identify a need related to the development of a new or improved material, product, or process, and collaborate with an academic institution to develop a scope of work encompassing expertise, equipment and services. The company applies to 401 Tech Bridge for funding to support the project.

Projects will be evaluated and reviewed. Once a project is funded, 401 Tech Bridge works with the company and academic institution to get the project launched, and continues to work with the company to identify ways to connect them to provide ongoing support and guidance.


NOTE: The funding is provided to the academic institution to support the company’s project; it is not provided to the company itself.

Outcomes of this program are reported to the EDA Sprint Challenge, the primary funder, and to Polaris MEP for the NIST MEP survey.

These projects run on the academic calendar, starting in January, May, or September. The application & contracting process can be lengthy.

Flux Marine

Ben Sorkin and his team created Flux Marine, an up-and-coming marine startup based in New England. The team has won several high-profile pitch competitions and competitive grants for their work on electric outboard motors.

Learn how 401 Tech Bridge helped Flux Marine navigate a number of severe crises and challenges that threatened the fledgling business, including helping them land a Materials Innovation Challenge award.

“You need persistence and perseverance in a startup. At the same time, no matter how good a sailor you are, if you do not have a map or a good ship, it is going to take you a very long time to get where you are going. To us, 401 Tech Bridge has become a part of that map. I think the most powerful part is the people. 401 Tech Bridge is able to really build and cultivate relationships. To overlook that is a missed opportunity.”
Benjamin Sorkin
CEO/Founder, Flux Marine Ltd.