Roundup: MCWT, Tetra Discovery, Entrepreneurs of Color Fund & More

Here’s a look at tech, startup, and innovation news from around Michigan:

—The Michigan Council of Women in Technology (MCWT) held its 10th annual website design competition for girls in high school earlier this month. Twelve student finalists presented their sites to a panel of IT executives serving as judges. A record number of competitors participated this year: 161 teams comprised of 198 young women from 30 Michigan high schools—57 more teams than last year. Many of the contestants attended MCWT’s training day at Davenport University, where they learned about various resources that would help them throughout the two-month competition. The winner, who hasn’t been announced yet, will receive $750.

MMI Engineered Solutions (MMI-es), an advanced materials technology company with about 100 employees, is adding 50,000 square feet to its Saline facility. As part of its expansion, MMI-es will invest $5.6 million and add 47 new jobs. To make the move possible, the company received a Michigan Business Development Program grant, incentives from the City of Saline, and more than $78,000 in skilled trades training funds to support its talent needs. The expansion will add space for distribution, injection molding, assembly, and tooling.

The Entrepreneurs of Color Fund recently created by JPMorgan Chase, the Detroit Development Fund, and the Kellogg Foundation has awarded its first loans, which are meant to offer underserved, minority-owned businesses more access to capital and credit. The four businesses receiving funds are Power, Lighting and Technical Services, a construction and design company located in the Barton-McFarland neighborhood ($100,000); Priceless Preservation Construction, which does renovation work for the Rehabbed and Ready program ($50,000); LoveLifeSwagger, a clothing store ($30,000); and House of Pure Vin, a downtown wine retailer ($145,000).

The University of Michigan Law School and JPMorgan Chase also announced the Detroit Neighborhood Business Project, a new program to address barriers to growth and provide legal support for Detroit’s neighborhood small businesses. Using a $127,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase, eight law students will work with small businesses each semester and provide legal advice on entity formation, employment, intellectual property leasing and other real estate transactions, and contracts for goods or services. Interested Detroit small businesses can learn more about eligibility by contacting the Detroit Development Fund at (313) 784-9547 or vholsey@detroitdevelopmentfund.com.

—Earlier this month, the University of Michigan’s Zell Lurie Institute kicked off its 33rd annual Michigan Business Challenge, a round robin-style competition where more than 100 student startups pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges in the first round. At stake is $85,000 in cash prizes. Some teams will advance to round two of pitching in January, followed by the semi-finals and finals in February. Open to all current undergraduate and graduate students, the competition is designed to expose students to a rigorous, multi-phase business development and planning process.

Tetra Discovery Partners, the Grand Rapids-based startup working on treatments for Alzheimer’s, depression, schizophrenia, and other cognitive disorders, has begun Phase 1 human clinical trials for its lead compound, a potential treatment to both improve memory and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. BPN14770, developed through a cooperative research agreement with the National Institutes of Health Blueprint Neurotherapeutics Network, works by intervening in important neural pathways related to learning and memory storage, said Tetra CEO Mark Gurney in a press release.

The Michigan Science Center in Detroit will celebrate its birthday by offering all city residents free admission from 10 am to 6 pm on Dec. 26. The party will include a community birthday cake and special activities.

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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