Sacramento has opened the application process for its 2018 Rapid Acceleration Innovation & Leadership in Sacramento (RAILS) program, a plan to seed tech innovation and startups in the state capital.

The program, initiated in 2016 with $1 million invested into local companies, was started under the city's Innovation and Growth Fund Policy and Guidelines in an effort to encourage startups in the city.

The inaugural 2017 undertaking encouraged direct funding of startups instead of only "startup enablers," the programs and initiatives in the community that support growth from idea to company, so this year the focus is on industries that would support the Sacramento Urban Technology Lab (SUTL) framework. This means projects should consider collaboration among government, academia and industry.

"By actively supporting technology development and demonstration throughout Sacramento, SUTL will help grow the city’s existing base of high-tech workers, business incubators, and early-stage technology businesses, and encourage established technology firms and research partners to test new technologies in a live city environment," the RAILS site reads.

Individuals, startups, established companies and nonprofits are all eligible.

"... All RAILS grant applicants should consider, as they prepare their proposal, how their project will advance the overall goals of the city, as well as how the project implements the youth development framework and social justice principles outlined in the plan," the site continues.

According to the site, grant funding will be provided for projects in these areas:

  • Incubator and accelerator programs that provide mentorship, networking, and education to raise capital, grow their business, and create new jobs
  • Programs that accelerate the commercialization of emerging technologies
  • Companies making it easier to work with and in Sacramento
  • Co-working spaces and nonprofit organizations bringing together the innovation community in Sacramento
  • Startups that are focused on improving the quality of life in cities through the SUTL framework
  • Educational programs training our next entrepreneurs in technology and business to build Sacramento-based startups
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) education for youth

Focus areas for the grants include startup enablers, mobility, clean tech, health IT, food systems, IoT and cybersecurity, government and civic tech and workforce development.

Acceleration grants, for projects focused on incubator programs and startups, range from $50,000 to $250,000. Innovation grants for civic tech companies range from $20,000 to $100,000. Leadership grants to build educational programs around technology and business range from $20,000 to $50,000.

Applications are due by noon May 7.