Drone Safety Firm Wins 5th ‘Accelerate Michigan’ Business Plan Competition

DETROIT — After two days of presentations at the Book Cadillac Hotel in downtown Detroit, the winners of the 5th annual Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition have been announced. At stake was more than $1 million in cash prizes plus awards of services, staffing and software.

At an event attended by investors, entrepreneurs, funders and experts in the innovation sector from across the globe, this year’s Accelerate Michigan winners are considered to be among Michigan’s most promising companies to watch.

The $500,000 grand prize went to Sky Specs LLC, a company leading the way in drone safety with software that eliminates collisions. The second place prize of $100,000 was awarded to Cribspot, which aims to revolutionize how college students find and manage their off-campus housing.

Other sector-specific prizes of $25,000 include:

Product and Service – SurClean
Information Technology – Ornicept
Alternative Energy – Solartonic
Advanced Materials – Akervall Technologies
Life Science – FreeStride Therapeutics
Manufacturing – Beet Analytics
Medical Device – AlertWatch
Advanced Transportation – Inventev
People’s Choice – Turtle Cell

In addition to the business competition, Accelerate Michigan hosted a business venture idea contest for student-led teams from throughout the state of Michigan. Students were judged on content, structure, delivery and creativity and were eligible to win $15,000 in
prizes to help launch their venture. This year, EV Airway Technologies, was awarded first place for creating a product that reduces the risk of injury and improves the comfort of patients using air tubes.

In addition to the 51 semifinalists at the 5th annual competition, this year’s event focused on showcasing Detroit’s rich, innovative culture, including a keynote address from Michigan native Susan Packard, co-founder of Scripps Networks Interactive and former COO of HGTV, as well as an appearance by 10-year-old Michigan entrepreneur and “Super Business Girl” Asia Newson.

“As an increasing number of businesses and entrepreneurs continue to invest in the state’s economic development, we’re excited to see the impact of this year’s winners,” said Lauren Bigelow, Executive Director of Accelerate Michigan. “For the fifth year in a row, we’ve brought together the best and brightest in business and innovation we look forward to seeing the participating companies continue to grow and do wonderful things for our state.”

Last year’s grand prize winner, Varsity News Network, has since received $4.6 million in three different funding rounds from ten investors. To date, Accelerate Michigan companies as a whole have raised more than $120 million in funding and created more than 600 jobs in Michigan.

Made possible by grants from the New Economy Initiative and the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s 21st Century Jobs Fund as well as a significant amount of corporate and community support, the Accelerate Michigan Competition has had an immediate and positive impact on the state’s economy, bolstering and advancing Michigan’s entrepreneurial eco-system.

More at www.acceleratemichigan.org.

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