Five Tech-Focused Startups Get Funded By Macomb – Chase Effort

WARREN — Five early-stage businesses from Macomb, Oakland and Washtenaw counties will receive a total of $275,000 in funding in the inaugural round of awards from the Innovation Fund Macomb.

The fund is a $2.7 million effort to stimulate economic development and job growth among promising Detroit-area entrepreneurs and businesses with high growth potential. Awards of $25,000 will be distributed to start-up businesses to assist with market introduction and awards up to $100,000 will be given to advance the progress of emerging companies toward larger-scale equity funding. The larger awards must be matched dollar for dollar by the companies funded.

Funding is provided by Macomb Community College’s Strategic Fund and JPMorgan Chase, the latter as part of its $100 million commitment to Detroit’s economic recovery.

The companies funded by the Innovation Fund are required to provide internships or learning experiences for Macomb Community College students. Students will not only have the opportunity to develop valuable workplace skills, but will also gain first-hand exposure to the entrepreneurial process.

“This first cycle of the Innovation Fund awards attracted a dynamic group of entrepreneurs with a wide range of promising concepts in an engaging and competitive process,” said Dr. James Jacobs, MCC president. “The robust level of participation and quality of applicants in our inaugural round of funding underscores the importance of the Innovation Fund’s unique approach – pairing early access to capital and education – to building a strong regional entrepreneurial ecosphere that accelerates economic development and job growth.”

The five companies awarded funding were selected from a field of 30 applicants. They went through a two-stage process, pitching first to a screening committee, with top-rated companies then presenting to a selection committee comprised of area professionals with experience in business management, finance, law, marketing and technology, who made final award recommendations.

Receiving awards of $25,000, which are designed to support early-stage companies, are:
* Aquasight, a Rochester Hills-based company that has developed a system to maximize the efficiency of surface and ground water systems, as well as wastewater pumping stations. Currently, 5 percent of U.S. energy is employed in pumping and moving water, and 70 percent of this energy is related to pumping systems.
* Gap Quality Systems, a Southfield company developing an automated process for inspecting chrome-plated and high-gloss painted parts to replace the auto industry’s current process, which involves hand inspection by employees. The computer-aided visual inspection process will allow for establishment of numeric standards recognized by both supplier and customer, reducing waste of parts and environmental impact.
* KTISIS, a Sterling Heights company that has developed a composite container system to enable fleet vehicles to use either compressed natural gas or liquefied gas. Using NASA technology related to advanced composite materials and manufacturing technologies, the universal storage system maximizes the existing natural gas refueling infrastructure.

Receiving awards of $100,000, designed to advance the progress of emerging companies toward larger-scale funding, are:
* MyFab5, an Ann Arbor company that has developed an online marketing platform that streamlines social media marketing for restaurants. The software provides a single dashboard that automates or streamlines creation of custom marketing plans, analyzing audience, generating leads, creating and publishing social media posts, tracking and engaging fans, and creating analytics reports.
* TurtleCell, the Ann Arbor developers of a thin-profile smartphone case with retractable headphones, designed as an all-in-one solution to tangled, broken and lost headphones.

The second application cycle for the Innovation Fund will close on July 31. Entrepreneurs involved in high-growth, technology-focused business, such as advanced manufacturing, information technology, alternative energy, healthcare, and logistics and supply chain are eligible to apply. The companies must locate within a nine-county region consisting of Genesee, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Shiawassee, St. Clair, Washtenaw or Wayne counties. Information about the application process and the upcoming information session at Bizdom on July 29 is available at www.macomb.edu/cie.

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