Roundup: Weyn, Detroit R&B, Swift Biosciences, STEMinistas, & More

Here’s a look at startup and innovation news from around Michigan:

The Michigan Science Center has launched a new program designed to support and cultivate interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) among middle school girls. The STEMinista Project has several goals: to spark and maintain an interest in STEM among female students, broaden the pipeline of female students who want to pursue STEM careers, and engage girls with authentic STEM experiences designed to increase their interest, confidence, and skills.

On March 3, Detroit Public Television hosted a conversation on the challenges, successes, and progressive strategies in gender diversification within the STEM workforce that featured a keynote speech from Gen. Gwendolyn Bingham, leader of the TACOM Life Cycle Management Command. To watch, click here.

—At an annual meeting earlier this month, the BlueWater Angels Investment Network announced it had a record year in 2015. The angel investing group deployed $4.5 million in capital to support four startups: Advanced Battery Concepts, RetroSense Therapeutics, Gemphire Therapeutics, and Foodjunky. In total, BlueWater Angels has invested over $14 million in more than 20 companies representing a variety of industries, including biotech, cleantech, and consumer products and services.

—Native Newcomer is a Detroit-based startup seeking to create a place online where longtime residents and those new to town can collaborate on entrepreneurial ventures. Teams will be assigned mentors and work together on vetted ideas crowdsourced from and voted upon by the community before pitching investors for funding. Native Newcomer is in the middle of an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to launch the initiative. Those who want to donate have until April 10 to do so; so far, $2,756 of $3,313 has been raised.

Business Leaders for Michigan, an advocacy organization composed of senior executives from the state’s biggest companies and universities, has a new website chock full of research and data about Michigan’s competitiveness, information about the group’s strategies and priorities, and news and action items. The site also houses the organization’s annual reports, including the newly released Building a New Michigan Plan, a roadmap to help Michigan become a top-ten state for jobs, income, and a healthy economy.

—Ann Arbor-based Swift Biosciences and Sweden’s TATAA Biocenter, which offers training in molecular diagnostics and genomic services, announced a new partnership earlier this month to distribute Swift’s next-generation sequencing kits in Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.

According to a press release, Kristina Lind, coordinator of TATAA’s hands-on training program, said, “We always seek collaboration with the best solution providers for our training courses and Swift Biociences are top of the class for next-generation sequencing library preparations.” Swift Biosciences will provide reagents and support to TATAA’s next-generation sequencing course, as well as provide technical expertise for TATAA’s role as a partner of the Cancer_ID Consortium in Europe.

Weyn, the Detroit gaming venture, has been selected to participate in the startup showcase at eMERGE AMERICAS. The company will compete to win up to $175,000 in cash and prizes starting April 18 in Miami. Sponsored by the Knight Foundation, Medina Capital, Miami Dade County, the Miami Herald News, and Greenberg Taurig, eMERGE AMERICAS highlights Miami’s growing tech scene and brings together industry leaders, investors, government officials, and entrepreneurs from Latin America, North America, and Europe.

—Google Staffing Programs has named Detroit R&B as one of the winners of its annual Pay It Forward contest, a way to recognize undergraduate and graduate student organizations who are positively impacting the black community. Detroit R&B, short for the Detroit Revitalization and Business initiative, was started in 2010 by graduate students at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business to promote the Motor City’s assets and foster engagement between university students and the city.

Pay It Forward chose two winners, one undergraduate and one graduate, out of hundreds of applicants nationwide. Detroit R&B won an all-expense paid trip to the Google’s Mountain View, CA headquarters, where it will have the opportunity to tour the Google campus, meet with the contest judges, and present its work to Googlers.

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