LANSING (WWJ) — The Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest hosted its 13th annual statewide business plan competition awards event for technology ventures at Entrepreneur Connect 2013 on Tuesday, June 18, at the James B. Henry Center on the Michigan State University campus.

The Pure Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge also awarded entrepreneurs with mission-based ventures and businesses creating employment opportunities in distressed urban areas.

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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 Plymouth-based BioSavita by Joseph Licavoli, manager of capital programs at Ann Arbor Spark. The award was received by Nalini Motwani, president and chief science officer for BioSavita.

BioSavita is a privately held, revenue-stage biotechnology company with a proprietary and patented yeast platform to accelerate development and production of biologics in partnership with biopharma companies.

Pharmaceutical development is moving from small molecule drugs such as Lipitor to blockbuster monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) such as Herceptin, Avastin and Humira, which are highly effective and targeted therapies for cancer and arthritis. In the last decade, monoclonal antibodies have improved the survival rate of cancer patients by three fold and they have fewer side effects than chemotherapy.

Emerging Company Awards

The GLEQ Grand Prize Award of $25,000 in the Emerging Company category was presented to Detroit-based ENT Biotech Solutions LLC. The award was received by Olivier Lecerf, chief operating officer. ENT Biotech Solutions is a medical device company developing the Adeno-Electro-Forceps, a single use disposable tool for adenoid soft tissue removal that reduces device cost, surgical time, complications, and patient discomfort.

The Second Place Award of $15,000 was presented to Inmatech of Ann Arbor. The award was received by Ryan Wiltshire, business development officer. Inmatech is developing a 12-volt hybrid energy storage device that significantly increases the life span of a start battery under the aggressive loads imposed by start-stop operation of passenger vehicles. (The technique integrates supercapacitors, devices that store large quantities of energy quickly and then discharge that energy quickly, in parallel with a commercial lead-acid battery.)

The Third Place Award of $10,000 was presented to Ornicept Inc. of Ann Arbor. The award was received by Justin Otani, CEO. Ornicept is a management solution provider eliminating costly natural resource data collection bottlenecks by providing an integrated platform for acquiring field data and uploading it to cloud-based servers. Providing analytics capabilities and improving how data is collected, managed, and analyzed.

The top seven teams competing for awards in the Emerging Company category pitched their plans to a panel of investment judges. On the panel were Brian Abraham, executive director, Spartan Innovations; Jack Ahrens, general partner, TGap Ventures and chairman, GLEQ Board of Directors; Kim Pasquino, portfolio relations, Start Garden; and Terry Cross, founder, Windward Associates, LLC. 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 Exo Dynamics of Ann Arbor, a medical device company creating new spinal treatments; ITB Packaging of Holland, which is developing novel packaging dividers for manufacturing parts suppliers; Lightmob LLC of Grosse Pointe Park, which is developing a user-friendly transition device for moving data off aging computers and wiping drives clean; and Sovilok Manufacturing of Flushing, which is developing new reinforcement systems for entry doors for greater security against break-ins.

The Emerging Company awards were presented by Jack Ahrens.

New Business Idea Awards

In the New Business Idea category, Troy-based DataSpeaks Health Solutions received the First Place Award of $5,000, with Curtis Bagne, founder and chief science officer receiving the award. DataSpeaks has a patented software technology to revolutionize how measurable biological data is analyzed to increase the safety and efficacy of pre-market drugs and therapeutics.

OcuSano Inc. of Ann Arbor received the Second Place Award of $2,500, and was represented by Stanley Samuel, CEO. OcuSano is developing a drug release mechanism for wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration eye medications.

QTek LLC of Chassell was awarded the Third Place Award of $1,000, with Dr. Bowen Li, president, receiving the award. QTek is developing an antimicrobial additive for plastics, paint and wood products.

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The New Business Idea awards were presented by Amanda Chocko, partner relations, Start Garden.

Innovation Awards

The eighth annual Automation Alley Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Award in the amount of $12,500 was presented to Covaron Advanced Materials of Ann Arbor and was received by Cameron Smith, CFO, and Dave Hatfield, CEO. Covaron’s Petraforge product processes like an advanced ceramic or polymer, yet performs like steel and aluminum and outperforms other polymers in a wealth of industrial applications for a fraction of the cost. The award was presented by Natalia Stasiw, entrepreneurial services manager at Automation Alley.

The Lean Startup Information Technology Innovation Award in the amount of $10,000 was presented to Lightmob LLC of Grosse Pointe Park and was received by Hans Erickson, founder. The award was presented by Mike Klein, co-CEO, Online Tech.

The Michigan Medical Device Accelerator Innovation Award in the amount of $10,000 was presented to Arthroptics of Ann Arbor and the award was received by Jordan MacDonald, co-founder. Arthroptics is developing Visula, a modified cannula, a tube used in minimally invasive surgery, designed with two tubular pathways inside, called lumen, to allow for the simultaneous passage of a camera and arthroscopic instruments. That provides for a more inclusive view of the surgical space and a better assessment of joints during surgery. The award was presented by Kelly Burris, partner, Brinks, Hofer, Gilson & Lione.

The MSU Bioeconomy Institute Green Chemistry Innovation Award in the amount of $5,000 was presented to Gantec Inc., of Midland and was received by Richard Olson, president. Gantec has developed advanced, plant-based growing aids, allowing agriculture professionals to reduce costs, cut back on synthetic chemicals, and improve yields. The award was presented by William Freckman, director of operations, MSU Bioeconomy Institute, and Randy Thelen, president, Lakeshore Advantage.

NextEnergy added a second innovation award and presented the two $10,000 NextEnergy Alternative Energy Innovation Awards to Ann Arbor-based Inmatech and Arborlight. The Inmatech award was received by Ryan Wiltshire, business development officer. TThe Arborlight award was received by Michael Forbis, president. Arborlight’s LED-based Solis window emulator delivers daylight that looks, acts and feels just like a real skylight, with a spectrum of varying color and intensity throughout the day for spaces that cannot access daylight. Both awards were presented with by Dan Radomski, vice president, industry & 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. Kristen Linegar, director of strategic initiatives, Inforum Center for Leadership, announced the scholarship award.

John Gillis of First Light LLC was awarded GLEQ Coach of the Year. Gillis coached four entrepreneurs in this cycle of the competition and two, Kimberly Kassner of EmpowerMind and Gwen Stanton of What Happens Next, lobbied for John to receive this award. They said John is “caring enough to tell you the things you need to hear even though you may not want to hear them.”

Grace Hsai, Warmilu, was awarded the GLEQ Spirit of Entrepreneurship which recognizes an entrepreneur that demonstrates passion, compassion, commitment, coachability and integrity. Grace was nominated by Gerry Roston who was struck by her eagerness to help others and her commitment to making the world a better place.

Loch McCabe, Shepherd Advisors, was recognized for his success in the Vision to Action Challenge for using the Business Model Canvas to create a new business vision supported by a clearly articulated action plan.

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 2013 conference which included learning and networking sessions and the inaugural Pure Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge awards.

GLEQ, now in its 14th 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 Corp. through an Entrepreneurial Support Services grant.

The 2014 GLEQ Business Plan Competition opens for registration on Monday, Aug. 26. Awards will be announced at the Annual Collaboration for Entrepreneurship 14 in January 2014.

Additional information is available at or by calling Diane Durance, GLEQ executive director, at (734) 255-3183.

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Top sponsors for Entrepreneur Connect and the GLEQ Business Plan Competition Awards included the MEDC, the MSU Innovation Center, Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione, Michigan Corps, Consumers Energy, MSU Bioeconomy Institute, Automation Alley, MSU Broad College of Business Institute for Entrepreneurship, Magic Johnson Foundation, Michigan Medical Device Accelerator, NextEnergy, MSU Federal Credit Union, Rehmann and Start Garden.