US Department of Commerce awards $1 million for R2 network challenge, selects team to drive innovation in disaster response and resiliency technology

The team selected to establish the R2 Network is a public-private partnership of entrepreneurs, early stage investors, local government and public safety stakeholders

WASHINGTON – Today, three U.S. Department of Commerce agencies, the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority), announced the awardee of the Accelerate R2 Network (R2 Network) Challenge. The R2 Network Challenge is an interagency program that connects stakeholders in the response and resilience (R2) industries, accelerating the speed at which startups and other organizations can bring innovations to the public safety market, create new businesses and jobs, and support community resilience.

The three agencies selected a public-private partnership to establish and operate the R2 Network, consisting of the following entrepreneurs, early stage investors, local government and public safety stakeholders:

  1. RapidSOS,
  2. ResponderCorp,
  3. Orleans Parish Communication District, and
  4. the Western Fire Chiefs Association.

Together, along with the State of New Hampshire serving as a key strategic partner and collaborator, these partners will form a national, free-to-use, and self-sustaining platform that brings stakeholders together for a common goal: to support innovators and agencies in empowering first responders with the tools and technologies they need to stay safe and protect our communities.

“EDA plays a strategic role in supporting community-led disaster planning, recovery and resiliency efforts,” said Dana Gartzke, Performing the Delegated Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “We are pleased to work with our federal partners through the R2 Network Challenge to ensure that our communities and first responders are provided with the technology they need to keep safe and we look forward to seeing how the dynamic public-private partnership chosen to lead this charge will work to spur innovation in this field.”

The R2 Network Challenge is a $2 million total effort, with funding contributions of $750,000 from EDA, $250,000 from the NIST Public Safety Communications Research division, programmatic support from the FirstNet Authority, and a $1 million match commitment from the public-private partnership.

“Public-private partnerships such as the R2 Network can be powerful tools, bringing together the right collaborators to create needed solutions fueled by American innovation,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Walter G. Copan. “We look forward to the technologies to be developed through the R2 Network improving our nation’s disaster response and resilience, and keeping first responders safe.

This challenge brings together expertise from across the Department of Commerce and stakeholders from outside the Federal Government. The R2 Network will be nation-wide in scope, with regional innovation clusters supported by government partners and local agencies to test and pilot resources needed to adopt new technology.

“Never has the need to protect those who protect us been more prevalent. We are very proud to be part of this collaboration with EDA, NIST, and the awardees of the R2 Network Challenge,” said Edward Parkinson, CEO of the FirstNet Authority. “This program highlight’s the Federal Government’s unique ability to lead in innovation for the public good by bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders and drive innovation for our first responders. The FirstNet Authority’s ability to foster these types of ecosystem programs are key to FirstNet’s success.”

To learn more about the R2 Network and to sign up for updates, please visit:

About the Economic Development Administration (

The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

About NIST

NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. NIST is a nonregulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) division within NIST’s Communications Technology Laboratory is the primary federal laboratory conducting research, development, testing, and evaluation for public safety communications technologies. It addresses the research and development necessary for critical features identified by public safety entities beyond the current generation of broadband technology.

About the First Responder Network Authority (

The First Responder Network Authority is an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Chartered in 2012, its mission is to ensure the building, deployment, and operation of the nationwide broadband network that equips first responders to save lives and protect U.S. communities. Learn more at and follow the FirstNet Authority (@FirstNetGov) on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram for updates.