Innovation Fund Macomb Makes Grants To Five Startups

WARREN — Five early-stage companies from Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties will receive $300,000 in funding from the Innovation Fund Macomb.

The fund is a $2.7 million effort to stimulate economic development and job growth among promising Detroit-area entrepreneurs and next-stage companies with high growth potential. Funding is provided by Macomb Community College’s Strategic Fund and JPMorgan Chase, as part of the bank’s $100 million commitment to Detroit’s economic recovery.

“The Innovation Fund is an important new way in which the college can directly support economic development while providing a different type of learning experience for our students,” said MCC president James Jacobs, PhD. “While classroom education is still important, education delivered in the workplace in collaboration with the economic drivers in our community and region positions our students and business community with a unique advantage.”

Companies funded by the Innovation Fund are required to provide internships or learning experiences for Macomb Community College students. Students will not only have the opportunity to develop valuable workplace skills, but will also gain first-hand exposure to entrepreneurship.

“Stronger small businesses drive job creation and economic growth,” said Chauncy Lennon, who leads workforce initiatives for JPMorgan Chase. “We are proud to be a part of the Detroit-area’s resurgence by supporting the entrepreneurs who are fueling its recovery.”

Three companies will receive awards that are designed to advance the progress of emerging companies toward larger-scale funding. These companies must provide matching funding and commit to paying back the award:
Banza (Detroit) – $100,000 award. Banza produces pasta from chickpeas that provides 25 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber per serving with half of the net carbohydrates found in regular pasta.
Lighthouse Molding (Sterling Heights) – $100,000 award. Lighthouse Molding has developed a low-pressure overmolding technology that encapsulates electronic assemblies using an organic polyamide resin and protects the assemblies from water, humidity, shock, vibration, thermal variation, dust and dirt.
Phasiq (Ann Arbor) – $50,000 award. Phasiq has designed a method of diagnostic testing for a variety of proteins in a single patient sample, which has advantages over the current process of testing for proteins one at a time. Phasiq’s technology is applicable to research and diagnostic tests related to cancer and other diseases affecting the immune and cardiovascular systems.

Receiving awards of $25,000, which are designed to support early-stage businesses taking the initial steps in market introduction, are:
Pro:Up (Detroit) – $25,000 award. Pro: Up is an online marketplace that matches students to extracurricular opportunities related to their educational and career objectives, providing a one-stop platform to relevant classes, summer programs and internships.
Sterilogy (Bloomfield Hills) – $25,000 award. Sterilogy has developed a hand sanitizer system to be worn by healthcare workers with an electronic compliance system that not only records compliance with hygiene protocols, but also prompts compliance if the healthcare worker does not follow the protocols.

The five companies awarded funding were selected from a field of 27 qualified applicants. Each went through a two-stage process, pitching first to a screening committee. The highest-rated companies moved on to a selection committee comprised of area professionals with experience in business management, finance, law, manufacturing and technology, who made final award recommendations.

This is the second cycle of awards for the Innovation Fund, which announced $275,000 in funding to five start-ups in July. The next application cycle for the Innovation Fund will close Nov. 20. Entrepreneurs involved in high-growth technology-focused business, such as advanced manufacturing, information technology, alternative energy, healthcare, and logistics and supply chain are eligible to apply. The companies must locate within a nine-county region consisting of Genesee, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Shiawassee, St. Clair, Washtenaw or Wayne counties. Information about the application process, as well as an upcoming Information Sessions, is available at http://www.macomb.edu/cie.

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