TRUE STORIES OF SUCCESS: The McAllen Innovation Grant Awards

In 2010 Fernando Ramirez and Jorge Garcia embarked on a great journey, the journey of innovation. The journey began when Jorge, an inventor, recognized the need for a new product to help parents with the cleaning and sanitizing of baby products. That vision was enough for Jorge to start sketching solutions to the problem. Fernando, an entrepreneur, learned about the idea and recognized the potential to develop a new product that could solve some unmet needs. At that point, the inventor and the entrepreneur decided to formalize the partnership in a new venture: G Innovations.

The next step was to move their idea off the ground. The team began attending the I&E (Inventors & Entrepreneurs) Network at the McAllen Chamber. At every meeting, they learned essential steps in the process of innovation.  The first topic they began to work on was intellectual property. Confidentiality agreements and provisional patents became part of a new language to them. The next step for them was to learn how to materialize the idea in a prototype.

At that point, they recognized that the idea had potential and that funding was needed. To alleviate the economic burden, they applied for the McAllen Innovation Grant Awards in 2010. The program is a competition that recognizes great ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship with funding.  They submitted a four page application explaining the potential of the idea. A judging panel selected their project from the pool of applicants and the team made a 20 minute project presentation. After reviewing the rest of applicants, the panel decided to fund the idea with a $10,000 grant for intellectual property expenses.

At present, G Innovations has partnered with the UTPA Rapid Response Manufacturing Center to build a finalized prototype for the product. They also applied for a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. During the process, the team encountered many challenges resulting in changes to the prototype. Fernando and Jorge anticipate having a final prototype within the next coming months.

The Innovation Grant is a competition that pursues two objectives. First, to generate entrepreneurial opportunities with funding to move ideas off the ground. The second is to expose entrepreneurs to the experience of requesting capital from potential investors. During the application process, participants need to solidify the objective (what), strategies (how), and tactics (when, where, who) of their project.

For additional information regarding the innovation grant awards, please contact Eduardo Millet at 956.682.2871 or emillet@mcallenchamber.com. 

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