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Ann Arbor start-ups score big at Accelerate Michigan

Start-ups from Ann Arbor and those with close ties to the college town did quite well at this year's Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition.

The top three finishers in this year's business plan competition all hailed from cities outside of Washtenaw County but they all have roots in the Ann Arbor area. Algal Scientific and nanoMAG (the first and second place finishers) both got their start in Ann Arbor before moving to Plymouth and Livonia, respectively. They both still work extensively with Ann Arbor SPARK. East Lansing-based InPore Technologies (the third place finisher) is headed up by Gerry Roston, a serial entrepreneur that calls Saline home.

Steve LeBeau, president of nanoMAG, praised the folks at Ann Arbor SPARK and at Accelerate Michigan with preparing his start bio-tech firm to do so well at the competition and be ready to raise a significant amount of revenue. He expects his start-up will be able to leverage its $100,000 cash prize from Accelerate Michigan into a seven-figure angel round.

"In the middle of this (competition) you're a venture capital fund saying, 'Send me a packet about what's going on,'" LeBeau says. "And you have a 12-page packet (prepared and peer-reviewed as part of the competition) to send them."

Other top placers at the Accelerate Michigan calling Washtenaw County home include:

- Eco-Fueling, the Saline-based business won the advanced transportation prize worth $25,000 for its fuel-efficiency technology built for diesel engines.
- Ornicept, the Ann Arbor-based start-up won the alternative energy prize worth $25,000 for its technology that monitors bird activity so wind turbine developers can make informed decisions.
- Protean Payment, the Tech Brewery-based company won the products and services award worth $25,000 for its software that can combine every creditcard in a consumer's wallet into one card.

Source: Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition and Steve LeBeau, president of nanoMAG
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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