[Updated—12/13/10 at 8:55 pm Eastern time. See editor’s notes.] A major business plan competition has sent its winners home with cash and other prizes to help make their dreams become reality. The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, which its organizers call the largest business plan competition in the world, has named the companies and student groups that took home prizes at last week’s final event in Ann Arbor, MI. And the top two company-track winners are spinouts from the University of Michigan.
The first is Armune BioScience. The Kalamazoo, MI-based company, which is focused on early detection of cancer, grabbed the $500,000 cash grand prize in the company category of the contest. And ReGenerate, a firm led by students from the University of Michigan, took the $25,000 grand prize for the student side of the competition. The students have plans for a system that converts organic waste into electricity and compost, according to the competition’s organizers. [Editor’s note: the fist two paragraphs were updated to add that Armune BioScience and Arbor Photonics are spinouts of the University of Michigan.]
The competition, in its first year, narrowed down nearly 600 competitors to just 18 companies and student groups that won more than $1 million in cash, in-kind services, and software. Last week Xconomy of the contest’s main organizers, Ann Arbor SPARK CEO Mike Finney, told me in an e-mail that the competition is intended to “highlight Michigan as the destination for innovation.” In fact, companies from around the world were invited to submit business plans, making this a global competition. (Read on to see how much of the prize money is staying in the Great Lake State.)
Who knows—perhaps one or more of the companies that took home prizes in this year’s competition will become major drivers of economic growth for Michigan in the future. To help you keep these firms and students groups on your radar, here is a complete list of this year’s winners:
Armune BioScience — $500,000 grand prize. Armune is developing a method of detecting the body’s immune response to cancer in a blood sample to enable early detection of prostate, lung, and breast tumors.
Arbor Photonics — $150,000 prize for first runner up. Arbor, based in Ann Arbor, is commercializing high-powered fiber lasers to increase productivity in manufacturing microelectronics, solar cells, and other advanced materials, according to its website.