Roundup: MSU and U-M Startups, DEVELOP(her), Hatch Detroit & More

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

—On April 13, three startup teams from Michigan State University hit Chicago for the National Automatic Merchandising Association OneShow event, a food service and vending trade show, to compete in the Swim with the Sharks pitch contest. Bringitt, a peer-to-peer shipping network; Ineed, an app allowing users to search for a product and see that product’s location, price, and distance from the user; and Barista to Go, a vending machine that offers customers fresh-ground espresso drinks, were competing for a $10,000 prize. Bringitt walked away the winner, and all three startups were accompanied by Spartan Innovations‘ Paul Jacques, who served as a coach and helped prep the teams for competition.

—Last month, two University of Michigan startups competed at the Rice Business Plan Competition, the largest and most lucrative graduate-level business competition in the world. Neurable, which has developed a human-brain interface that allows people to control objects using thoughts, and PreDxion Bio, a precision medicine diagnostics company, represented the university in the competition. According to the university, Neurable and PreDxion won a total of $430,000 from Rice and some of the angel investors in attendance.

“The Rice competition is one of the largest and toughest competitions in the nation,” Stewart Thornhill, executive director of U-M’s Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, said in a press release. “Having two Michigan teams rise to the top of this very competitive field validates the talent and technology coming out of our university.”

—Details of this year’s Comerica Hatch Detroit contest have been revealed, and the big news is that Comerica will now invest a total of $125,000 in the winners, as well as offer additional support for Hatch entrepreneurs and alumni. The annual business competition seeks entrepreneurs with a retail concept to submit their plans for a brick and mortar location in Detroit, Highland Park, or Hamtramck. Applications will be accepted online until July 15, 2016.

The winning business pitch will score $50,000 from Comerica Bank, $25,000 in branding and logo design from Team Detroit, and a package of accounting, legal, IT, public relations, and legal counsel from Hatch Detroit and its partners. The winners are determined in part by voting from the community at large, which takes place online.

Comerica has contributed $25,000 to the Michigan Women’s Foundation to establish a micro-enterprise loan fund offered exclusively to Hatch Alumni to help them meet short-term funding challenges. Hatch Detroit will also host a series of free workshops during the application period where newbies can work with established business owners to refine their business plans and pitches: June 2 in Hamtramck, June 16 in Jefferson East, June 29 on the Avenue of Fashion, and July 7 in Grandmont Rosedale.

—The city of Holland, which WalletHub recently named the best small city to start a business, announced it has been approved as a satellite SmartZone of Grand Rapids. During the next 15 years, the Holland SmartZone plan anticipates tax capture of more than $7.5 million to be invested back into the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. (Tax capture will begin in 2016 and will continue for 15 years.) SmartZones provide tech companies, entrepreneurs, and researchers a place to collaborate and share resources, and being located in a SmartZone allows startups to tap into certain pre-seed microloan and other business accelerator funds managed by the state.

—The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative, a $20 million effort that provides loans, business education, and grants to Detroit-area entrepreneurs, celebrated the graduation of 60 small-business owners at a May 4 reception on the campus of Oakland Community College. The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiative aims to help create jobs and economic growth by providing local small-business owners with support services and access to capital. According to the latest study, in Southeast Michigan, 73.5 percent of participants realized increased revenues six months after graduating from the program, and 51.9 percent added net new jobs six months after graduating from the program. Goldman Sachs is currently accepting applications for the next cohort in the program, which starts in August.

Grand Circus, the coding school in downtown Detroit, is offering a free Java bootcamp open to women in Detroit and Flint. In partnership with the Hagerman Foundation and TEKsystems, the DEVELOP(her) bootcamp‘s goal is to increase the number of women in the tech industry and support them as they grow in their jobs. The initial class will consist of 20 women who will receive 10 weeks of training followed by early career mentorship through the Michigan Council of Women in Technology. The DEVELOP(her) bootcamp kicks off July 18, with applications opening on May 16. Training and networking events will occur in both Detroit and Flint, and applicants must be women who are Michigan residents and passionate about launching a career in technology.

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