Conquer Accelerator launches in GR

EAST LANSING—Conquer Accelerator has announced the launch of its 2020 program in Grand Rapids. The 10-week accelerator plans on running the program in its newest location this year starting Sept. 14.

“We started the program in 2016 with just a handful of Michigan State University students, but over the last five years it became apparent our program was valuable to all types of entrepreneurs, not just our direct network,” said Thomas Stewart, Conquer Accelerator program manager. “Given MSU’s ties to the area, Grand Rapids is a natural fit for our first expansion of the program.”

Conquer Accelerator began in 2016 as a collaborative effort made possible through partnerships with its parent organization, the Michigan State University Foundation, and its subsidiaries Spartan Innovations, Red Cedar Ventures, and University Corporate Research Park. Originated in East Lansing, the accelerator program supports rising startups by providing $20,000 in funding, access to more than 40 mentors, access to follow-on funding, and other essential resources. With collaboration between the Grand Rapids SmartZone Local Development Finance Authority (Grand Rapids LDFA) and Conquer Accelerator staff, the program aims to expand community outreach and support startups in the area.

Conquer Accelerator’s fifth East Lansing cohort started virtually June 1. Applications for the first-ever Conquer Accelerator Grand Rapids open until July 20. The program runs from Sept. 14 to Nov. 20. Visit www.conqueraccelerator.com for more information on the application process and program requirements.

Said Jeremiah Gracia, Grand Rapids economic development director: “This program aligns with the SmartZone’s development plan objectives to support high-tech startups through incubation and accelerator programs. Bringing a program with a proven record of success along with early stage funding is a great opportunity for our community.”

Conquer Accelerator provides high-tech startups in the city of Grand Rapids with intensive programming, focusing on completing tailored, goal-driven benchmarks, while working with mentors on topics like fundraising, technology, and longevity.

“Grand Rapids has a strong manufacturing backbone … (and) a wide diversity of industries from healthcare and furniture to craft beers and automotive glass,” said Frank Urban, Conquer Accelerator director. “This has made the area a hub for creative ideas and entrepreneurs willing to take the risk of launching new companies.” He said the accelerator “can help these entrepreneurs realize their dreams, stimulate the local economy, and create high-tech jobs.”

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