Innovate Stamford Funding Applicant FAQ
IS is one of four Innovation Places recognized by CTNext through a competitive bid process. All places are charged to “weave together entrepreneurship support and relationship-building with physical planning and development” - see here for Vision statement. However, each “place” has unique challenges and opportunities. The IS board is responsible for understanding the circumstances unique to Stamford and developing the strategy for fulfilling the vision - making Stamford the “place that attracts the talent high-growth enterprises need.” Thus, funding applicants are entities with projects or initiatives that are aligned with this vision.
2. Am I eligible to apply for funding?
Any duly organized entity, validly existing, and in good standing under the laws of the State of Connecticut and its jurisdiction may apply. This includes but is not limited to private companies, public, non-profit, and non-governmental organizations. To apply, you need not have already raised matching funds, though a minimum 1:1 cash match is required prior to any payment.
3. What use of funds is not permitted?
Funds may not be used for any activities defined by the IRS as lobbying, for activities not explicitly identified in the initiative budget, or travel outside of the State of Connecticut.
4. Why do I need matching funds and how do I demonstrate matching funds?
The purpose of matching funds is multifaceted: It demonstrates grant money is being leveraged to generate additional investment. It speaks to market validation by showing audience commitment. It can permit greater impact by growing the project’s overall investment. A dollar per dollar match is required (in-kind is a welcome, qualitative demonstration of support, but does not constitute a match), however, a match of greater than 1:1 is viewed favorably. The source of matching funds is also relevant as it may speak to potential for future engagement and/or synergy across other Innovate Stamford projects. To demonstrate matching funds, proof of transaction is required. Most often, this means presenting the check and deposit slip for associated funds. However, other alternatives exist as appropriate. Proof of match and execution of the MOU must be complete before any disbursement of funds.
A Project Review Panel (PRP) is a committee formed each funding cycle made up of Board members who are not involved in any project being submitted. They review all projects and make a recommendation to the full board for approval. This committee may also request project modifications in order to achieve approval, or provide feedback for future applications. They primarily act during the new fiscal year budget application when most new projects are submitted. However, they will also meet regularly for rolling project submissions and budget modifications. For continuity, this committee remains the same each funding cycle.
CTNext provides the fiduciary with ¼ of approved budget upfront with no matching requirement. Each quarter, IS staff submits reporting, demonstrates match raised, and requests the next quarterly payment Net 30 days (10% is withheld until the year is complete). Each quarter, (unless agreed upon differently) a project recipient may invoice the fiduciary for their quarterly payment along with their milestone progress. Funds are generally dispersed within 2 weeks though may be expedited for extenuating circumstances. IS and CTNext reserves the right to withhold payment if milestone progress is not satisfactory.
6. What does follow up look like for funded projects?
In general, most projects have some form of working group that invites IS staff to regular meetings. Some projects meet very frequently and others less often depending on how a project is structured. At the very least, IS staff receives quarterly updates from funded projects, though typically interaction is monthly.
7. What happens if a project fails to meet its milestones?
If a project fails to meet its milestones there are a number of potential next steps. Assuming the project applicant communicates the milestone miss in good faith and has a reasonable plan to catch up, IS and CTNext have the authority to approve revised milestones within the same FY. If the project fails to meet its milestones within the same FY, but intends to meet them, the applicant must request from IS and CTNext a No-Cost Extension, which may be approved or denied. If a project is denied the extension, unspent funds and/or funds associated with undelivered milestones must be returned to IS. This also applies if a no-cost extension is not sought and it is discovered that milestones have not been met. In this case, the project applicant has forfeited their funds.
8. If my project is not approved for funding, may I apply again?
Yes, re-application is encouraged. Please take the time to review the feedback provided to you and reach out if you have any questions.