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GLEQ Names Winners, Presents $216,000 In Awards

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LANSING — The Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest hosted its 12th Annual Statewide Business Plan Competition Award Ceremony at Entrepreneur Connect 2012 Tuesday night at the James B. Henry Center on the Michigan State University campus, with sponsor organizations MSU Innovation Center, the Global Food Protection Institute, the MSU Bioeconomy Institute, the Michigan Medical Device Accelerator, Automation Alley, NextEnergy, Inforum and the Michigan SmartZones.

SmartZone Award

An event highlight was the presentation of the $100,000 SmartZone Award, sponsored by the Michigan SmartZones and funded through the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund, administered by Ann Arbor Spark. The award was presented to Detroit-based MitoStem Inc. by Skip Simms, senior vice president, Ann Arbor Spark and managing director of the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund program. The award was received by James B. Eliason, president and CEO, MitoStem.

MitoStem focuses on developing and commercializing technologies to advance stem cell research and the field of regenerative medicine. So-called “pluripotent” stem cells have the ability to reproduce themselves or differentiate into each of the cell types found in the body. Such cells will make it possible to replace diseased and damaged organs with healthy ones grown in the laboratory and potentially cure diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gerhrig’s disease and spinal cord injury.

Emerging Company Awards

The Grand Prize Award of $25,000 in the GLEQ Emerging Company category was presented to Algal Scientific Corp. of Plymouth. Algal Scientific offers advanced treatment of high strength wastewater from the food and beverage industry using algae, cutting discharge costs and producing high value algal biomass for use in animal health and nutrition.

The Second Place Award of $15,000 in the Emerging Company category was captured by Ypsilanti-based Patient Provider Communications Inc., a health care technology company with nurse-call solution comprised of a pillow speaker with evidence-based design and a digital, patient-centric interface, handheld devices for care providers, and a Web-based dashboard to monitor call demand and efficiency metrics.

The Third Place Award of $10,000 was presented to Local Orbit of Ann Arbor, which is developing e-commerce and business management tools for the new food economy. The software makes it easy for businesses to buy and sell local foods.

The top six teams competing for awards in the Emerging Company category pitched their plans to a panel of investment judges made up of Carolyn Cassin, co-founder and co-manager, Belle Capital Management, president and CEO, Michigan Women’s Foundation; Aaron Crumm, president, Ultra Electronics AMI; Pete Farner, general partner, TGap Ventures; and Ken Kousky, CEO, MidMichigan Innovation Center, president and CEO, IP3, Inc., and executive director, BlueWater Angels Investment Network.

Presentation scores were added to scores on the companies’ written business plans to determine the overall winners. Finalists in addition to the winning companies included, Converge Medical Devices, Mrs. Glee’s Gluten-Free Foods, and ONL Therapeutics.

The Emerging Company awards were presented by Charles Hasemann, executive director, MSU Innovation Center.

New Business Idea Awards

In the New Business Idea category, CastNotice, of Douglas, received the First Place Award of $5,000; Star Toilet Paper LLC of Ann Arbor, received the Second Place Award of $2,500, and Lavin Inc. of Belleville was awarded the Third Place Award of $1,000.

CastNotice fosters talent and performance opportunities by providing a web-based platform for constructive critiques by leading entertainment industry professions and universities. The CastNotice award was presented to David Petro, CEO. Star Toilet Paper is a niche marketing company that prints advertisements and coupons on toilet paper. Jordan Silverman, co-founder, received the award. Lavin, Inc. is a medical equipment company with a patient lift accessory to assist healthcare providers care for immobile patients. Manuel Lavin was presented with the award.

The New Business Idea awards were presented by Eric Sosenko, attorney, Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione.

Innovation Awards

The seventh annual Automation Alley − Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Award in the amount of $12,500 was presented to Plymouth-based Beet Analytics Technology.

Beet is commercializing a software product that revolutionizes the way factory performance is monitored and managed. Edward Kim, managing director, was presented with the award by Diane Durance, executive director, GLEQ.

The Comcast Business Class − Information Technology Innovation Award in the amount of $10,000 was presented to Patient Provider Communications. Jonathan Baugh, COO, was presented with the award by Mark Calvert, director of sales, Business Services, Comcast Business Class.

The Global Food Protection Institute − Food Safety Innovation Award in the amount of $10,000 was presented to Houghton-based Micro Techno Solutions. The company is developing a new, inexpensive antimicrobial packaging material as a biologically safe transportation aid to prevent contamination of raw fruit, vegetables, and eggs by foodborne diseases introduced by seasonal workers or delivery personnel. Founder Jarek Drelich’s student Patrick Bowen was presented with the award by Preston Hicks, vice president, Resource Development and Evaluation, Global Food Protection Institute.

The Michigan Medical Device Accelerator Innovation Award in the amount of $10,000 was presented to Ann Arbor-based Warmilu LLC. Warmilu has developed a revolutionary, non-electric, reusable heating technology for use in infant-warming blankets. Co-founders Grace Hsia and Austin Ruby were presented with the award by Kevin McLeod, vice president, Southwest Michigan First, and managing director, Michigan Medical Device Accelerator.

The MSU Bioeconomy Institute − Green Chemistry Innovation Award in the amount of $5,000 was presented to China Township-based Blue Water Bioproducts LLC. The company offers cost competitive, high performance polyurethane resins manufactured from an environmentally friendly and renewable material called lignin. President Kurt Kurple was presented with the award by Paul Hunt, senior associate vice president, Research & Graduate Studies, and professor of chemistry, Michigan State University.

The NextEnergy − Alternative Energy Innovation Award in the amount of $10,000 was presented to GreenLancer Energy, which offers access to a virtual network of clean energy engineers through a cloud-based platform to make available energy expertise from across the country to meet client demand for quick and cost effective project completion. Chief Strategy Officer, Douglas Elbinger, was presented with the award by Sam Hogg, director, venture development, NextEnergy.

Inforum Center for Leadership announced the availability of a competitive ACTiVATE Scholarship Award for a woman entrepreneur in the GLEQ Business Plan Competition interested in developing her entrepreneurial acumen through the ACTiVATE education program. Kathleen Mechem, executive director of entrepreneurial strategies, announced the scholarship award and will interview applicants.

Holly Bielawa, Agile Growth Strategies, was awarded GLEQ Coach of the Year.  Heidi coached three ventures in the competition. According to one entrepreneur, “Holly’s help has transformed our business design and has made us feel much more confident about our business succeeding. She insight was amazing.”

Scott Lange, was awarded the GLEQ Spirit of Entrepreneurship. Scott is currently covering the CEO and CFO roles at St. Joseph-based Zeus Smart Marketing, a new company being developed by his other firm, Kismet Strategic Sourcing Partners LLC. GLEQ Coach, Fred Pieplow, worked with Scott and reported, “Scott’s vision is contagious and his experience will help him meet the coming challenges as he executes his business plan. I am confident Zeus will launch successfully.”

The GLEQ awards event was held in the atrium of the James B. Henry Center on the MSU campus. The event was part of the full-day Entrepreneur Connect 2012 conference, which included learning and networking sessions.

GLEQ, now in its 13th year of continuous operations, is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) educational program designed to accelerate the formation of high-growth companies in Michigan. GLEQ leverages a roster of volunteer business and investment experts to provide training, coaching and mentoring. Entrepreneurs in the business plan competition receive as many as four written critiques from members of the investor community. GLEQ is funded by Michigan Economic Development Corporation through an Entrepreneurial Support Services grant.

The 2013 GLEQ Business Plan Competition opens for registration on Monday, Aug. 27. Awards will be announced at ACE’13 in January 2013.

Additional information is available at www.gleq.org or by calling Diane Durance, GLEQ Executive Director at (734) 255-3183.

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