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Latest i3 Winners Secure Matching Private-Sector Dollars

The 20 highest-rated applicants from the third round of the Investing in Innovation competition have successfully raised the required amount of matching dollars from the private sector, clearing the way for them to start spending their winnings.

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that, collectively, the 20 winners secured $16 million from private donors. Gaining matching dollars is an important requirement of this contest.

As my colleague Jason Tomassini has reported, however, gaining the commitment of matching funds and actually getting the dollars are two different things. Some grantees have struggled to collect on private-donor promises in the past.

But for now, it's full steam ahead. Eight "validation" grant winners will get individual grants of up to $15 million, while the remaining 12 winners get "development" grants of up to $3 million each. This time around, the department decided not to away any of the largest "scale-up" grants.

All told, the i3 portfolio now includes 92 winners spending nearly $1 billion in government grants, and $162 million in private donations.

[UPDATE, 9:18 P.M.]:
Jim Shelton, the assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement, said in an interview the department's decision to not fund any large scale-up grants is part of an effort to build a pipeline of strong ideas. Awarding one or two large grants would have come at the expense of funding many more promising ventures, and would have been "too high a price," he said.

"The big thing is the portfolio keeps getting stronger. We're going to be producing scale-up winners for two years from now. The pipeline is really, really important," Shelton said.

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