Design Catalyst provides funding, business mentorship & professional development training to catalyze growth
Thursday, November 1, 2018
PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza today joined Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training Director Scott Jensen, DESIGNxRI Executive Director Lisa Carnevale and past grantee recipient, co-founder and COO of Work-Shop Design Studio Nic Shumann at The Design Office to announce the re-launch of the Providence Design Catalyst program. Design Catalyst provides qualifying Providence design businesses with $150,000 in grant funding capital in amounts between $10,000 – $20,000, business mentorship and professional development training to catalyze business growth.
“The Providence Design Catalyst program is designed to take local, design-based businesses to the next level,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “Here in the Creative Capital exceptional design talent can be found across our communities. We’re proud to offer a great resource for those seeking to grow and reach their full potential.”
The program is run by DESIGNxRI, an economic development nonprofit for the RI design sector, based in Providence. Through DESIGNxRI’s partnership with both the City of Providence and the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (Real Jobs RI), the Providence Design Catalyst program supports Providence-based design businesses in reaching their business growth goals.
Through a competitive, merit-based grant application process, applicants are asked to submit qualifications and experience, business goal(s), expected milestones, success projections and a proposal about how their business growth will benefit the Providence design ecosystem. Applications will be reviewed by the Design Catalyst steering committee, led by DESIGNxRI and will be accepted from November 1 – 26, 2018 on DESIGNxRI’s website.
“Rhode Island’s design sector is a vibrant and important asset in our community,” said Scott Jensen, Director of the RI Department of Labor and Training. “Real Jobs Rhode Island invests in the Design Catalyst program because supporting the sector’s entrepreneurs and small business owners are essential to our state’s workforce and economic development.”
Design is one of the fastest-growing sectors locally and nationally. Providence is a hotbed of design activity – it is home to the third most industrial designers per capita in the U.S. and one of the world’s most recognized and premier design schools, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).
“The Design Catalyst program is a unique opportunity to combine the power of our community’s design expertise and entrepreneurial base with resources from the City and State to boost well-poised creative enterprises and encourage innovative growth,” stated Lisa Carnevale, co-founder and executive director of DESIGNxRI. “We can’t wait to see this year’s applicant pool, which always reveals an amazing depth of talent in our city and state.”
While the City’s design talent continues to thrive, there remains a great need to cultivate and sustain existing creative entities. Support from the Providence Design Catalyst leads to positive business development, jobs and business growth, pathways for recent graduates to remain in Providence, and establishes a foundational strategy for next-generation business development.
“DESIGNxRI is on track to become critical infrastructure for design businesses in Rhode Island,” said Nic Shumann, co-founder and COO of Work-Shop Design Studio, a 2018 Providence Design Catalyst grantee. “The Design Catalyst program offers new and emerging businesses the support and confidence they need to move forward. It gave Work-Shop not only some financial resources to focus on a needed strategy, but the education and mentorship to continue to build our business here in the state.”
The Providence Design Catalyst program began in 2015. Since then, DESIGNxRI and partners have invested in 30 design businesses. Here are program highlights:
- $635,000 investment into 30 design businesses
- 27 business mentors engaged from the RI business community
- 67% of participant businesses developed a new product line and/or extended their brand
- 53% of participant businesses extended an existing product line and/or added production capacity with new equipment
- 9 of the 30 added staff capacity with interns, freelancers, or full-time employment
- All analyzed and re-envisioned their business model and growth capacity, making thoughtful decisions on what was needed foundationally to continue on their growth trajectory.
- Additionally, 23% of participant businesses received additional funding and/or mentoring from outside sources.
The Providence Design Catalyst, led by DESIGNxRI, is funded by both the City of Providence and the Rhode Island Department of Training (Real Jobs RI). Program partners and steering committee members include Bethany Costello with RI School of Design, Aidan Petrie with Ximedica and New England Medical Innovation Center, and Philip Hawthorne with Blue Cross Blue Shield of RI.