SOUTHFIELD—Snowbotix, a startup company developing an autonomous, electric-powered robot that can be used to clear snow in winter and clean pavement in summer, won the $15,000 first prize in the Centrepolis Accelerator Micro Makers Evolution Lab Pitch Event, held Wednesday in the Buell Building Atrium at Lawrence Technological University.
A total of $35,000 was awarded to four winners at the event, funded by Centrepolis, the city of Southfield, the New Economy Initiative, and the intellectual property law firm Ward Law. The Micro Makers Evolution Lab program is dedicated to support underrepresented entrepreneurs in Southeast Michigan developing physical products in an effort to launch more products made in Michigan.
Taking first runner-up and a $10,000 award was ESSPI, a company developing technology for the safe storage and transportation of lithium-ion batteries, which some government jurisdictions are treating as a fire risk. Second runner-up and a $5,000 prize went to Wagging Tails, developers of a portable pet spa.
The $5,000 People’s Choice Award, funded by Ward Law and selected by audience vote, went to Reaction Technologies LLC, developers of a device to attach to football tackling dummies—so coaches can tell if athletes are leading their effort with the crown of their helmet, exposing themselves and the person being tackled to the possibility of serious injury.
All four winners and the other companies who presented Wednesday are clients of Centrepolis, one of a handful of business accelerators in the nation that especializes in commercializing manufacturing technology firms—companies making physical products—rather than service companies or software developers.
“Once again, the talents of the entrepreneurs at Centrepolis were on full display at our latest pitch event,” said Dan Radomski, Centrepolis executive director. “This was our opportunity to showcase these amazing hardtech innovators on their pathway to market and manufacturing their products in Michigan.”
Serving as judges for the event were Jason Barnett, senior vice president of lending at Invest Detroit; Wafa Dinaro, executive director of the New Economy Initiative; Herb Drayton, executive director of the investment firm Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses initiative; Rochelle Freeman, economic development director for the city of Southfield; Erin Grant, director of the Detroit Development Fund’s Microloan Fund; and Southfield Mayor Kenson Siver.
During a break in the event, Karissma Yve, CEO and founder of the on-demand jewelry design and manufacturing platform Gildform, offered attendees her lessons learned and pitfalls to avoid in launching a successful manufacturing startup—in her case, a company that lets jewelry designers create products in design software, and then have them manufactured in Gildform’s production plant in Detroit.
The Centrepolis Accelerator, housed in Lawrence Technological University’s Enterprise Center in Southfield, is 6,300 square feet of business assistance for physical product developers and manufacturing companies, a unique niche among accelerators in Michigan. Clients include climatech, manufacturing startups, and established companies looking to move up to the next level in product innovation. Services include product design, engineering, prototyping, and manufacturing readiness support, as well as business planning services, office space, co-working space, workshops, mentors, and events.
For more information, contact the Accelerator at (248) 204-2452 or visit www.centrepolisaccelerator.com.
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is one of only 13 private, technological, comprehensive doctoral universities in the United States. Located in Southfield, Mich., LTU was founded in 1932, and offers more than 100 programs through its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 11 percent of universities for alumni salaries. Forbes and The Wall Street Journal rank LTU among the nation’s top 10 percent. U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best in the Midwest colleges. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.