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Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition garners 570 entries, exceeds expectations

The entries are in for the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, and the winners are making their way through the first round of elimination.

The Ann Arbor-based contest with $1 million worth of prizes attracted 570 entries from not only across the U.S. but around the world. Those applications were evenly split between student entrepreneurs pitching business concepts and established startups looking to take their next step up.

"The number of businesses was somewhat more than we expected," says Michael Finney, president and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK, which is coordinating the event. "We set our expectations at 200-225 and it was 285."

The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition is offering $1 million in prizes to start-ups in Michigan or planning to move to Michigan. The idea is to showcase the state's entrepreneurial ecosystem to a large audience of investors in town for the Big Chill hockey game at Michigan Stadium on Dec. 11. There will also be a Student Idea Competition with $50,000 in prizes. Students must submit a one-page business plan, a three-minute video pitch, and formulate a 15-minute live pitch.

The most popular areas of the competitions were products and services, IT, and life sciences. Entries came from states like California, Texas, and Massachusetts, and countries like Canada, Switzerland, and the West Cape of Africa. About 90 percent of the applications came from Michigan-based businesses and just over 10 percent of the entries came from people age 55 and older.

"There really is a need for us and our services for those people who fall into that demographic," Finney says.

The competition is being run by the Business Accelerator Network, which is composed of southeast Michigan's major business accelerator agencies. Judges will start narrowing down the list of entrants to 45 company semifinalists and 25 student semifinalists by Tuesday. The Top 10 companies and students will be selected just before the event in December.

Source: Michael Finney, president and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK
Writer: Jon Zemke

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