The Providence Design Catalyst program is a competitive grant program providing seed capital, business mentorship, professional development training, and peer-to-peer networking to help design businesses reach their growth goals.

Design is one of the fastest growing sectors locally and nationally. It has the dynamic capacity for integrating strategy, experience, and aesthetic, and propels new business startups, job growth, product innovations, global markets, and urban developments. Today, design is recognized as the lynchpin in consumer experience and the driver for innovation.

Support from the Providence Design Catalyst leads to positive business growth, jobs, and pathways for creative talent to stay in our creative city. It establishes a foundational strategy for next-generation business development. Combining the global expertise of teachers, dedicated support from business mentors, and financial investment based on milestones and achievements, the Providence Design Catalyst program creates vital momentum for sustained business growth. See Program Overview & Scope: In English // En Español


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Past Success

The Providence Design Catalyst program began in 2015. Since then, DESIGNxRI and our 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.
  • While some milestones adjusted based on mentor and program input, all reached their milestones.
  • Additionally, 23% of participant businesses received additional funding and/or mentoring from outside sources.

The Providence Design Catalyst program is led by DESIGNxRI and funded by the City of Providence’s Department of Community Development and Real Jobs RI, a program of the RI Department of Labor and Training. Program partners and steering committee members include Bethany Costello, Director of Community Relations at the Rhode Island School of Design, Susan Mocarski of Cleverhood and Aidan Petrie, Founding Partner at NEMIC and co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer Emeritus at Ximedica.