New $2.7M Macomb Innovation Fund Awards $275K to Five Startups

Five startups from Southeast Michigan were today awarded a total of $275,000 from a new $2.7 million innovation fund that is a joint effort between Macomb Community College (MCC) and JP Morgan Chase, as part of the latter’s $100 million, five-year initiative to stimulate Detroit’s revitalization.

The purpose of the fund, organizers said in a press release, is to encourage entrepreneurial activity in the region by nurturing startups with high growth potential.

The fund is open to tech companies located in Genesee, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Shiawassee, St. Clair, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties, and working in the industries of advanced manufacturing, information technology, alternative energy, healthcare, and supply chain and logistics.

Companies are first eligible for up to a $25,000 grant for prototype development, market evaluation, and other early startup activities. Those who get launch funds can also receive up to $100,000 in non-collateral loans for further proof-of-concept work; all recipients of funding from the Macomb Innovation Fund must agree to provide activity reports and undergo mentorship from MCC’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Those companies eligible for the additional funding must also agree to provide a paid internship to an MCC student, match the award on a 1:1 basis from a different investor, and pay back the investment if the company proves successful.

The companies receiving money as part of the Macomb Innovation Fund’s inaugural round of funding, who were selected from 30 applicants, are:

TurtleCell, $100,000: Ann Arbor-based TurtleCell has developed smartphone cases with built-in, retractable headphones that eliminate the issue of perpetually tangled headphone wires.

MyFab5, $100,000: Working out of Ann Arbor, MyFab5 streamlines and automates online social media marketing for restaurants so they can better engage customers and generate positive reviews.

—Aquasight, $25,000: The Rochester Hills-based Aquasight is developing a “real-time intelligence solution” for ground and wastewater pumping systems to identify water-wasting performance issues.

—GAP Quality Systems, $25,000: Southfield-based GAP Quality Systems has created an automated inspection process for chrome-plated and high-gloss parts in the auto industry—a process currently done by human inspectors. The company’s computer-assisted system reduces waste and environmental impact.

KTISIS, $25,000: Sterling Heights’ KTISIS leverages NASA advanced composite materials technology to develop natural gas-powered engines for use in fleet vehicles.

The Macomb Innovation Fund will hold a free informational session for interested applicants at 5:30 pm on July 29 at Bizdom’s office in downtown Detroit; click here to register to attend. The next round of funding applications are due on July 31; click here to apply.

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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