By Edward Cardenas

TROY (CBS Detroit) – Automation Alley has invested $75,000 from the Automation Alley Pre-Seed Fund in Civionics of Ann Arbor and Lighthouse Molding of Sterling Heights.

Both companies are clients in Automation Alley’s 7Cs program, and received assistance and guidance from the associations’s entrepreneurship team to “help accelerate the growth of the companies,” officials stated.

“We decided to invest in both of these companies above and beyond the $25,000 offered through our 7Cs program because we believe they are poised for rapid growth,” said Tom Kelly, Automation Alley’s COO and director of the 7Cs program in a release.

The 7Cs program was launched in December with an emphasis on helping advanced manufacturing startups across Southeast Michigan with intense coaching and a commitment from Automation Alley to invest resources and capital.

The program includes a $25,000 directed investment from Automation Alley in each company accepted into the program to cover the costs of the program. Companies accepted into the program are required to repay the $25,000 at the end of two years. There is also an opportunity for each of the accepted companies to receive up to an additional $100,000 in investment from the Automation Alley Pre-Seed Fund after they complete the program.

Automation Alley has invested $8.95 million in 47 startup companies across Southeast Michigan through its Pre-Seed Fund.

Civionics, a provider of intelligent wireless sensor networks and cloud-based data services, received an additional $25,000 from the Pre-Seed Fund. According to the company, Civionics’ wireless sensing hardware is designed to process sensor data before transmitting it, which can significantly reduce or eliminate many problems associated with other wireless monitoring platforms. The technology has been used to monitor long-span bridges, wind turbines, naval combatant vessels and other engineered systems around the world.

“This recent investment will allow us to finalize several important product features and to build inventory for our upcoming product launch,” said Andy Zimmerman, CEO of Civionics, in a release. “Most importantly, we feel that this investment will give us the opportunity to see our products take hold in the marketplace by the end of the summer.”

The second company, Lighthouse Molding, received an additional $50,000 from the Pre-Seed Fund. Lighthouse Molding’s low pressure overmolding technology encapsulates electronics that protect valuable components against dust, dirt, moisture, humidity, shock and vibration while generating cost savings, product performance improvements, better reliability and production efficiencies.

“Lighthouse has ramped up growth in 2015; we have already matched our full year 2014 sales,” said Scott Reisfield, Lighthouse Molding’s chief marketing officer. “The loan from Automation Alley has allowed us to better manage this growth. It has provided a working capital cushion, and we are going to hire a new employee next quarter because this loan has given us the financial flexibility to bring this person on earlier.”

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