About the Program

•RISCPA/RI Business Forum received funding to operate a first in the US Technology Innovation Center, known as Rhode Island Technology and Innovation Center.

•This initiative is supported by funding from President Biden's Infrastructure Package and collaborates closely with leading Rhode Island higher education institutions, such as Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island, among others. This unparalleled support mechanism for small businesses aims to equip Rhode Island's business sector with deep insights into prevailing challenges, such as supply chain and logistics issues, and to uncover new market opportunities. Additionally, the program aligns with the U.S. Small Business Administration, leveraging the STEP trade program to assist small businesses in reaching global markets with their products. This collaborative effort marks a significant step forward in providing Rhode Island businesses with the resources and support needed to thrive in today's competitive landscape.

•Target industries for the grant include defense and the blue economy, but all will be considered.

•RIMA (RI Manufacturers Association) and RISCPA/RI Business Forum are founding members. 


Key Objectives and Program Deliverables

Enhance Data Analytics Utilization Among RI Small Businesses - Equip RI small businesses with the tools and knowledge to apply data analytics effectively, addressing their unique operational challenges. This includes harnessing analytics for supply chain improvements, market expansion (both domestically and internationally through a partnership with SBA STEM Export), operational efficiencies, and risk mitigation.

Facilitate Supply Chain and Market Expansion Opportunities - Explore avenues for leveraging data analytics to optimize supply chains and facilitate expansion into new markets, thereby fostering growth and sustainability among local businesses.

Foster Experiential Learning in Business-Related Disciplines - Establish partnerships between RI small businesses and students from local colleges and universities (including Rhode Island College, the University of Rhode Island, Bryant College, and Providence College), focusing on business, supply chain management, and business analytics. This initiative aims to provide hands-on, practical experience to students while benefiting businesses with fresh insights and analytics-driven solutions.

Expand Data Analytics Education Through Practical Experience - Offer students the opportunity to deepen their understanding of data analytics by working with real-world data from the RI manufacturing sector. This approach not only enhances educational outcomes but also contributes positively to the local business ecosystem. Work with local universities and colleges to incorporate this experiential learning program into their existing curricula, enabling a seamless blend of theoretical knowledge and practical field training for students. This initiative will not only enrich the students’ educational journey but also prepare them better for the demands of the modern workforce.


How Will it Work

Pairing Process and Team Composition:

  Businesses that express interest will be matched with students, generally assigning two students to   each company. This format is designed to encourage peer-to-peer learning, allowing students to   collaborate and share insights as they navigate the project.

Confidentiality and Data Protection Measures:

  To safeguard sensitive information, Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) will be put in place. These   agreements ensure that all data shared by the company is protected and used solely for the purpose   of the project.

Kick-off and Initial Engagement:

  An introductory meeting will be organized to facilitate a meet-and-greet session between the students   and the company. This initial interaction aims to:

Set the stage for a productive partnership by establishing key objectives and timelines.

  Foster a mutual understanding of the desired outcomes for both the students and the business,   ensuring alignment and setting the foundation for a successful collaboration.


What Success Looks Like

Clarity and Relevance of Student Projects:

  Success will be characterized by students gaining a comprehensive understanding of the specific   business challenges they are addressing. This includes recognizing how their work directly   contributes to enhancing business performance and outcomes. Students will have access to   essential analytics tools (e.g., Power BI) and ongoing support from their professors throughout   the project, ensuring they are well-equipped to tackle the tasks at hand.

Tangible and Actionable Insights:

  At the project's conclusion, students will present their findings and insights, providing the   businesses with actionable recommendations. These insights are aimed at unveiling new   opportunities for optimization and improvement, thereby delivering real value to the   participating businesses.

Strengthening the Local Business Ecosystem:

  A key measure of success will also be the extent to which these projects foster stronger   connections among educational institutions, students, and Rhode Island's small business   community. By bridging this gap, the initiative seeks to not only support the immediate needs of   local businesses but also to contribute to building a robust talent pipeline within the state,   securing its economic future.