ANN ARBOR — The Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest presented awards to the mid-year winners in its 12th year of the statewide business plan competition Tuesday night at the ACE’12 entrepreneurship event in Ann Arbor.

More than 200 Michigan-based entrepreneurial ventures were registered for the competition, which attracts a wide-range of innovation-base businesses in fields such as alternative energy, information technology and software, advanced manufacturing, homeland security, medical devices and life sciences. The competition’s twice-annual, two-track program accommodates both idea-stage ventures and companies with up to $3 million in cumulative sales.

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Award winners in the Emerging Company category are:

First Place Award – $5,000.  BioPhotonic Solutions Inc.,  Represented by application scientist, Dmitry Pestov, East Lansing-based BioPhotonic Soutions owns disruptive technology that unleashes the latent capabilities of an entire class of lasers — ultrafast, or scientifically, femtosecond, lasers, with applications in markets that depend on ultrafast short-pulse lasers, including biomedical imaging, corrective laser eye surgery, and mass spectrometry. BSI’s vision is to enable the transition of ultrafast lasers from the research lab into everyday applications. The management team  includes Igor Pastirk, CTO, and Marcos Dantus, president and CEO.

Second Place Award – $3,000. Phenometrics Inc.,  Represented by CEO Mimi Hall, East Lansing-based Phenometrics provides innovative research and development measurement tools for the algae and plant science industry. The company’s portfolio of products includes photo bioreactors, plant imaging systems, and spectrophotometers, as well as other instruments for the cultivation of plants and algae. Their products serve the biofuel, nutraceutical, and agricultural markets. Also on the management team is David Kramer, PhD, the Hannah Distinguished Professor of Plant Molecular Biology at Michigan State University and expert on the biophysics of plant photosynthesis.

Third Place Award – $2,500. Gantec Inc., Represented by president and CEO Richard Olson, Midland-based Gantec is an agricultural biotechnology company producing safe, effective, and natural plant extracts and solid formulations that allow customers in commercial agricultural, consumer gardening and horticulture to improve plant yield, and lower overall costs of production. The company’s technology employs unique life science insights and sophisticated, biocompatible extraction and formulation methods to maximize the benefits of their products. Also on the management team are Lanny Robbins, PhD, the scientist who developed the extraction process, and Joseph Affholter, PhD, a leading expert on molecular pharmacology.

Award winners in the New Business Ideas category are:

First Place Award — $2,000, SurClean Inc. Represented by CEO Susan Sprentall, Wixom-based SurClean has developed handheld laser-based products to replace chemical, media blasting and abrasives for removing coatings. The system uses a laser beam to disintegrate paint and rust from substrate in a cost-effective, safe, energy-efficient and earth-friendly way. SurClean removes safety concerns, environmental issues and hazards associated with the control and use of chemicals as well as the disposal of contaminated waste product.

Second Place Award – $1,500. Hygia LLC. Represented by co-founders Scott Hamerink and Kevin Denholm, Rochester Hills-based Hygia provides a software platform that rewards healthy behaviors and adherence to health-related treatment plans. The interactive technology platform improves patient health and the bottom line of companies through education, effective tools, personalized programs, and engaging challenges that encourage and reinforce positive behaviors and product usage.

Third Place Award – $1,000. Menlo Park Software LLC. Represented by founder and CEO Richard Bollinger, Menlo Park Software has developed a software tool for traditional project managers to help them with collaboration, managing unscheduled work and producing project reports. This software-as-a-service program allows for the collaboration needed for agile projects and then leverages it to produce traditional reports and meet the needs of team participants.

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Lee Gorman, Barton Consulting Group, was awarded the GLEQ Coach Award. Gorman was nominated by two teams and selected for her steadfast commitment and professionalism as well as for the value she provides her GLEQ teams. She is described by teams as “prompt,” “dedicated,” “careful and thoughtful,” and “extremely supportive,” all skills that really make a difference to entrepreneurs.

Jessica Tompkins, president of Iron Mountain-based Two Bows, was selected for the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award. Her GLEQ coach, Nancy Mathias, noted that Jessica “welcomed different perspectives,” “always followed through,” “was diligent,” and “cares deeply about serving her customers.”  Two Bows is an e-commerce apparel line for the outdoorsy woman providing hunting clothes designed for ladies to look their best while out in the woods, at the camp, and in the lodge.

In addition to the awards presented at ACE’12, GLEQ executive director, Diane Durance, announced several awards planned for the June 2012 GLEQ Business Plan Competition, including the 3rd Annual $100,000 SmartZone Award sponsored by Michigan’s network of SmartZones and a new $10,000 award being presented by the Global Food Protection Institute  for ventures in food safety. Michigan Growth Capital Symposium director Mary Nickson also announced a presentation slot  at the MGCS event in May for GLEQ winner BioPhotonic Solutions.

Winning ventures were selected by 85 volunteer judges, including venture capitalists; angel investors; university-based tech transfer, engineering and business staff; and economic and business development professionals.

The awards were presented by Diane Durance, executive director, GLEQ;  Jack Ahrens, managing partner, TGap Ventures, and chairman of the GLEQ board of directors; and Sam Hogg, founder of GiftZip, director of venture development at NextEnergy, and member of the GLEQ board. GiftZip was a GLEQ New Business Idea winner in 2009.

GLEQ, now in its 12th year of continuous operations, is a Michigan-based 501 (c) (3) non-profit education program designed to accelerate the formation of high-growth companies.

GLEQ sponsors a statewide business plan competition twice each year. The competition accommodates ventures in various stages of development. Entrepreneurs with new business concepts compete in the New Business Idea category. Ventures in the early launch phases and those with grant income and customer revenue compete in the Emerging Company category. Ventures working with SmartZone advisors and seeking seed funding, can compete for the $100,000 SmartZone Award. Innovation Awards are available and planned for ventures in advanced manufacturing, food safety, medical devices, IT and alternative energy.

GLEQ leverages a portfolio of 185 volunteer business and investment experts to provide training, coaching, mentoring and judging. GLEQ was a past recipient of a 21st Century Jobs Fund Grant and current operations are funded by an Entrepreneurial Support Services grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

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