MI Roundup: Contest Deadlines, Personnel Changes, New Investments, More

Here’s a look at news briefs from around Michigan’s innovation hubs:

—Applications for the third annual Entrepreneur-YOU business plan competition are now being accepted from women-owned businesses or women with a hot startup idea. The competition will award cash prizes to six winners and coaching to 10 businesses, which includes advice on marketing, financial management, and technical assistance. Finalists will deliver their pitch presentations on Oct. 10 at Walsh College in Troy, MI. Entries must be submitted online by June 30; click here to apply.

—The University of Michigan has formed a new technology consortium with three other U.S. universities to improve the way educational content is shared between learning institutions and delivered to students. The partnership is called Unizin, and it consists of U-M, Colorado State University, Indiana University, and the University of Florida. Unizin will provide a common digital infrastructure, as well as content and sharing services that will allow member universities to retain control over the use of their intellectual property. Each investing institution has committed $1 million over the next three years to develop the shared services in an operating agreement with Internet2, a nonprofit global technology organization.

Pillar Technology, a software development company with offices across the Midwest, is expanding its workforce and moving to a new office on Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor, MI. The business development organization Ann Arbor SPARK worked with the company to secure state and local incentives that made the expansion possible. The company plans to add 45 jobs and invest nearly $2 million over three years. “Ann Arbor is a great place for us to expand our cadre of software engineers,” said Charles Fry, Pillar’s vice president of the Great Lakes region, in a press release.

—Wayne State University in Detroit announced the winners of its mobile app competition this week. The contest, sponsored by Wayne State’s office of economic development and Blackstone LaunchPad, was open to students, alumni, faculty, and staff, and there were $5,000 in cash prizes awarded courtesy of Detroit Labs, the Detroit Technology Exchange, and The Front Door. Winning the $2,500 first place prize was a team consisting of Sagor Bhuiyan, Lawrence Namait, Terrance Johnson, and Mir Ikram Uddin. Their app was designed to increase awareness of campus events, gauge interest, and incentivize attendance. The second place prize of $1,500 went to Iyad Kuwatly for his app titled Get Involved, which provides easy access to the latest events on WSU’s campus and the city of Detroit. Andrew Giang took home the $1,000 third place prize for his app called Pinounce, which allows users to view and post content to categorized boards rather than using traditional bulletin boards.

Start Garden, the Grand Rapids, MI-based venture capital fund that invests in more than 100 ideas per year in small increments, announced that it has invested $5,000 each in Roomations and PrograMax. Illinois-based Roomations is a website that allows users to upload photos of rooms that they want to redecorate. From there, interior designers provide 3-D room designs and associated shopping lists based on budget, retailer, and style preferences. PrograMax is an app for high school coaches to engage players in skill development and communicate with parents and other coaches.

Medical Main Street is now accepting applications for its “INNO-VATOR of the Year”award, which honors the creator(s) of a medical device that demonstrates the most dramatic change in Michigan’s health care industry. The award will be given on Oct. 22 during Medical Main Street’s INNO-VENTION conference in Novi, MI. For nominating requirements, click here; entries are due by Sept. 5.

—Lots of personnel changes have been announced this month:

Detroit’s ad tech startup Are You a Human has hired Ben Trenda as its CEO. Trenda previously helped launch the world’s first programmatic direct buying platform at iSocket and real-time bidding as part of the Rubicon Project. He also ran global alliances and agency partnerships at AOL Media Networks.

Delphinius Medical Technologies, the Plymouth Township, MI-based developer of the SoftVue ultrasound platform for use in breast screenings, has added Ronald Ho to its board of directors. Ho has 20 years of experience in the medical imaging industry, including a stint as president and CEO of U-Systems.

Detroit-based iRule has added Hannah Webber as its director of operations. Prior to joining iRule, Webber was a strategy consultant at Accenture.

Evan Ufer has joined Ann Arbor-based Plymouth Venture Partners as a partner. Before joining Plymouth Ventures, Ufer was a vice president at Quilvest Private Equity’s New York office. He also spent some time working in real estate private equity for the Carlyle Group’s senior housing division.

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