Roundup: Accelerate Michigan, U-M, Tetra Discovery Partners & More

The grind never stops in Michigan’s innovation community, even when the weather is perfect for playing hooky. Here’s a look at recent tech news from around the state:

—The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, the state’s largest startup pitch contest with up to $1 million in cash and prizes at stake, is now accepting applications for the 2018 installment, which will be held Nov. 13 at Detroit’s Lexus Velodrome.

New this year is a focus on network building, and to that end, the competition will “carefully curate” one-on-one meetings between seed-stage startups and fellow entrepreneurs, investors, business acceleration programs, and other mentors. Following the meetings, the semi-finalists will pitch their startups on stage during a reception and dinner open to the public.

All companies interested in pitching must complete the registration form by Aug. 15 to apply for competition. After registering, companies must submit their application package by Aug. 31. Semi-finalists will be announced on Oct. 3.

—The University of Michigan’s student-led Social Venture Fund has invested in Six Foods, the San Francisco company responsible for Chirps Chips snacks made with cricket flour. The company, which was started by three Harvard grads in 2013, is on a mission to introduce the Western world to insect-based protein, which they say requires dramatically fewer resources to produce.

Six Foods says it will use its new capital—the specific amount was not disclosed—to hire a director of sales and expand its advocacy training program, which aims to engage more people in solutions for food sustainability.

—Lawrence Technological University has launched the Detroit Center for Design + Technology (DCDT) incubator in the Midtown neighborhood. Throughout October, DCDT will hold monthly events called DCDT Talk, which focus on subjects pertaining to entrepreneurs working in the creative economy.

On Aug. 8, the DCDT Talk installment will cover failure and how to triumph over it. The event, held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 4219 Woodward Ave., is free and open to the public.

—In honor of Social Media Day on June 30, U-M’s School of Information has unveiled a new website called Social Integrity, which is intended to promote digital citizenship and provide resources to help the public protect their privacy, detect fake news, and learn how to effectively deal with the bad behavior that can run rampant on social sites. The website also includes tools to help users understand their digital footprint, protect themselves online, and cultivate civil social media communities, as well as a glossary of social media slang to help parents decipher what their kids are posting.

Tetra Discovery Partners, a biotech company located in Grand Rapids, has advanced its Fragile X Syndrome treatment, BPN14770, to Phase 2 clinical trials. (Fragile X Syndrome is the most common genetic form of autism.) The company said in a press release that its small molecule drug, BPN14770, has shown in mouse studies “the ability to improve the quality of connections between neurons and to improve multiple behavioral outcomes.”

The study is being conducted on 30 males, ages 18-45, at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, with financial support from the FRAXA Research Foundation.

—Atlanta’s NeuroTrauma Sciences and Detroit’s Henry Ford Health System have struck a sponsored research and licensing agreement to advance Henry Ford’s technology, which involves exosomes as extracellular vesicles enriched with microRNA, to treat stroke, traumatic brain injury, and neuropathies.

Under the agreement, a newly formed NTS subsidiary, NeurExo Sciences, will license methods and intellectual property from Henry Ford and fund exosome research projects headed by Michael Chopp, vice chairman of Henry Ford’s Department of Neurology and scientific director of its Neurosciences Institute. NXS will get worldwide commercial rights to product candidates that result from the IP and sponsored research coming out of Chopp’s lab.

“We believe that exosome technology has the potential to serve as a transformational platform for multiple neurological conditions—including stroke, concussion and other traumatic brain injuries—and NeuroTrauma Sciences is excited to be a part of it,” NXS CEO Carl Long said in a prepared statement. For more details on Chopp’s research, click here.

TechTown Detroit has appointed two new people to its 31-member board. Lori Wingerter is the chief philanthropic officer at General Motors (NYSE: GM), where she manages the company’s social investments and charitable partnerships. Charles Burke is the president and CEO of Grosse Pointe’s War Memorial.

Search Optics, the Ferndale-based digital marketing company working with automotive industry customers, has appointed David Cox as its president of North American operations, a new position. Prior to joining Search Optics, Cox served as head of connected cars and Internet of Things for Connect-Auto, a software startup in the automotive e-commerce sector.

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