Accelerate Michigan Names Student Winners

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Another day, more amazing company presentations at the Accelerate Michgian business plan competition at the University of Michigan’s North Campus Research Complex in Ann Arbor.

The bottom line: All those people who think America is moving in the wrong direction would feel a whole lot better about things if they were here.

A morning panel on funding cleantech startups in Michigan said the state is in the right place at the right time, with lots of opportunity in the cleantech market and lots of money available.

“This is all about getting quality shots on goal, and the tmiing of Michigan in this industry is fantastic,” said panelist Knut Simonsen of DTE Energy Ventures, a clean technology investment group founded by the Detroit utility holding company.

Throughout the day, company presentations continued. Among some of the most exciting were from student competitors.

Some 28 teams of student finalists presented Thursday afternoon and Friday morning at the event. Ten finalists were selected to make a second presentation Friday afternoon. Winners were announced at Friday night’s cocktail reception.

The student winners were:

First Place, $25,000: ReGenerate onsite anaerobic digestion units, presented by Hunt Briggs, Paul M. Davis, Robert Levine and Nolan Orfield of the University of Michigan. ReGenerate provides its customers, which include university cafeterias and supermarkets, with a lower cost and environmentally preferable alternative to traditional waste disposal. Their digester, named the Compact Organic Waste System (COWS), transforms unwanted and costly organic waste into a renewable source of electricity and nutrient-rich compost.

First Runner-Up, $15,000: Reveal Design Automation, presented by Zaher Andraus, Vimal B. Bhalodia and Matthew Neagle of the University of Michigan. More at http://reveal-da.com. Reveal Design Automation provides the electronic design market with the best possible software tools to verify correctness of complex, digital chip designs. Through their proprietary, patent pending exclusively licensed technology achieves orders of magnitude improvements in scalability during the formal verification process.

Second Runner-Up, $10,000: MiEND- Drug Screeners, presented by Darius Banasik and Trushal V. Chokshi of the University of Michigan: MiEND (Microfluids Enabled Neurodegenerative Diseases) Drug Screeners has developed a technology platform that would enable high-throughput screening of neurodegernative medicinal compounds in a more cost effective, rapid, and automated manner — namely, by using the c. elegans worm instead of mice as test animals.

People’s Choice Award, $10,000: June Energy: Clean Portable Energy Solution for Developing Countries, presented by Shahnoor Amin, Allan R. Taylor and Abdrahamane Traore of the University of Michigan. More at www.june-energy.com. June Energy has developed a $30 solar-panel-powered device that provides nighttime lighting and cell phone charging for residents of less developed countries, integrating a lithium-polymer batteries, light-emitting diodes and a USB connection. Amin said more than a billion people worldwide still use kerosene for lighting, causing huge pollution problems. And of the 1.6 billion people worldwide with no access to electric power, 500 million of those people have cell phones and struggle to charge them. The plan is to sell the devices through Third World cell phone providers.

Other impressive presentations from Friday included:

* Culinary Central, submitted by Cherise Soulliere of Wayne State University, which proposes to back the creation of more small caterers and bakers by providing rent-by-the-hour commercial kitchens and office spaces — essentially a business incubator for the food industry.

*eHealthX, submitted by Sudhakar Mohanraj of the University of Michigan, softawre for simple, easy and secure exchange of health records of patients among health care providers.

* Erionet, technology for trade shows, submitted by Ken Siegner of Wayne State University. This business idea would replace millions of tons of trade show catalogs and brochures with electronic data, uploaded by USB from vendors to attendees’ smartphones or computers.

*Rethink Water, presented by Zachary Fortney of Grand Rapids Community College. This company seeks to replace some of the 877 plastic water bottles landfilled in the United States every second with reusable stainless steel bottles that would be distributed free — and refilling stations where the water is also free. The refilling stations would have a TV screen displaying community information, weather and local advertising. The initial target market is college campuses. Those who use the system would also get a rewards card to swipe when they fill up.

* STIgma Free, presented by Bethany Tong of the University of Michigan, a business that would use microfluidics lab-on-a-chip technology to create a 20-minute lab test for three common curable sexually transmitted infections — gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis. Initially targeted at small clinics, the devices would eventually be marketed to universities and the direct-to-consumer market.

* The Impact Card, presented by Adam Carver of the University of Michigan. This business idea would set up a system to allow credit card users to trade in their rewards points, airline miles or cash-back to make investments in green energy projects. Eventually, they’d earn investment income.

* The Trading Cup, presented by Giovani Ortiz of Eastern Michigan University. This business idea would set up online competitions between investors and investment clubs, teaching better investing techniques.

Accelerate Michigan concludes Saturday.

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.

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