RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – First Flight Venture Center has landed $1.3 million as North Carolina’s only grant recipient for the 20FY Venture Challenge Award by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (EDA).

Krista Covey, Flight Center’s president, said the funds will go towards expanding its First Flight’s program, Hangar6, an advanced prototyping center, featuring prototyping design assistance and additive manufacturing equipment ranging from 3D printers to laser cutters to wood/welding shop.

“The Hangar6 expansion responds to the unmet needs of companies and entrepreneurs by delivering top tier additive manufacturing education, expert design assistance and more advanced prototyping equipment such as metal printing, advanced 3D printing options, and advanced metal laser cutters to NC companies and entrepreneurs,” she said.

The FY20 Venture Challenge (formerly known as the “i6 Challenge”) seeks to support entrepreneurship and accelerate company growth in communities and regions, with 52 organizations from 36 states receiving grants totaling $35 million.

“The new award will expand First Flight’s commitment to provide early stage science-focused companies with additional critical resources on their path to commercialization,” said First Flight Board chair Mary Musacchia,

First Flight houses 30 to 40 early-stage companies at any one time. Many of them graduate from First Flight within three to five years as they move closer to commercialization. Since its inception in 1991, First Flight has helped launch 400 companies with a combined market value in excess of $8 billion.