Research & Development/Last Mile Broadband

Last Mile Broadband Program

In 2017 the R&D Committee approved the use of up to $10 million as a multi-year commitment to assist in constructing “last-mile” broadband telecommunications infrastructure in unserved areas of the Region. In March 2018, the Committee made awards totaling more than $11 million as grant incentives to localities and qualified experienced private sector broadband providers working in partnership, to assist with up to 50% of construction costs.  Those nine projects, listed in the link below, will serve more than 31,500 homes, businesses and anchor institutions.

The Committee has now committed up to $5 million to be available in a second round of project grant and loan funding. Full proposals were due March 21, 2019, and will be acted on at the June 2019 Commission meetings.

FY19 Last Mile Broadband Staff Summaries and Recommendations 5-31-19 

FY19 Last Mile Awards 6/6/19


If you would like to review any of the pending applications, please contact our Grants Director Tim Pfohl at




The primary objective of the Research and Development program is to support research within Southern and Southwest Virginia that has a high likelihood of moving into a commercialization stage with accompanying job creation and private sector capital investment, also within those regions. Applications that propose to expend Commission resources outside of that Region, either directly or indirectly, will receive limited consideration. Likewise, research performed within the Region whose ultimate benefit is likely to be commercialized outside the Region without majority economic benefit to the Region will receive limited consideration. Program guidelines adopted by the Commission are intended to attract entities who propose to:

  • engage in applied research that is post proof-of-concept
  • invent and/or improve products, processes, or services that originate and remain in the Region (highest priority), or whose value is substantially increased in the Region (lower priority)
  • pursue commercialization within 36 months
  • conduct research and development in the following areas:

Energy (of primary interest to the Commission)

Biomedical and Health Care

Information Technology

Chemical and Materials



At its meeting in May 2016, the Commission’s R&D Committee directed staff to solicit grant/loan proposals for R&D projects under two new categories: “Continuation” funding for projects that have received one previous round of TRRC R&D funding and are continuing toward commercialization in the Tobacco Region; and requests from any applicant that is seeking federal SBIR Phase Two funding. See additional information below:

Guidelines for “Continuation” Funding for Active R&D Projects:

“Continuation” projects are those that have received one previous round of TRRC funding, that are continuing to actively pursue further research, and continue to demonstrate a commitment to commercialize at some future time within the Tobacco Region. The following general guidelines were published for an initial call for proposals in mid-2016 and will continue in effect for the August 3, 2017 call for proposals:

  • Requests will be accepted for projects that have received only one previous grant award from the Commission (R&D program guidelines limit recipients to a maximum of two grant awards);
  • Applicants must demonstrate substantial accomplishment of research milestones and outcomes listed in the previous grant-funded phase of research;
  • Applicants must provide a clear and compelling case for the specific needs, activities, milestones and outcomes for additional research and development to be funded by a proposed second grant;
  • Applicants must present a detailed description and commitment to the probability and scope of commercialization in the Tobacco Region following the proposed second phase of grant-funded research and development, and;
  • Applicants must conform to all other requirements of the R&D Program and TRRC funding in general, including but not limited to committed dollar-for-dollar matching funds (or a commitment of required matching funds within 180 days of grant approval), a limit of $2 million per request, an eligible applicant organization, a project period of not more than three years, and use of TRRC grant funds to conduct research activities within the Tobacco Region.
SBIR-Funded Projects:

The Committee set an application deadline of August 3, 2017 for projects that can demonstrate successful completion of a federal Small Business Innovation Research-funded Phase One proof of concept, and are applying for SBIR Phase Two funding. Generally, the Commission intends to support costs in the $50,000 – $500,000 range that are critical to the project’s success but are not eligible for SBIR funds. Approval of TRRC funds will be contingent on approval of SBIR Phase Two funding. Guidelines for that funding cycle are available in the menu at right.

Application Deadline

The application deadline for this round of funding has passed. Please return for updates regarding future rounds of funding.





Other Programs

Special Projects

Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund

Southwest and Southside Economic Development