After two days of pitches by 51 semifinalists at the 5th annual Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, Sky Specs LLC was named as this year’s grand prize winner.
Sky Specs, which develops drone safety software and products that help drones avoid collisions, was awarded $500,000 as the grand prize winner.
Cribspot, the second-place winner, was awarded $100,000. Cribspot is working on an innovative system to help students find and manage off-campus accommodations.
Nine other teams won $25,000 each as the winners in specific sectors such as information technology, manufacturing, life sciences, advanced materials, alternative energy, etc.
Apart from the cash awards, the winners will also be getting access to services, software and staffing. In addition to the main competition, Accelerate Michigan also included a venture idea contest for student teams vying for $15,000 in prizes to help them launch their ideas into real ventures.
The first prize in this venture idea contest went to EV Airway Technologies, which has come up with a product that improves comfort and reduces risks for patients using air tubes.
The schedule of events also included an appearance by ten-year old Michigan entrepreneur “Super Business Girl” Asia Newson – Detroit’s youngest entrepreneur who started her business making and selling candles when she was five and is the CEO of the company which she runs with her dad.
Martin Dober, vice president of Detroit community and economic development organization Invest Detroit, said in a release that this year’s competition was truly encouraging as the competitors displayed utmost dedication in continuing to contribute to Michigan’s innovation economy and culture.
The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition was established with grants from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the New Economy Initiative. The MEDC grant was provided through the 21st Century Jobs Fund.
The competition was launched with the intention of connecting later-stage entrepreneurial companies with national and international investors. It recognizes and supports innovative projects that are considered to be the most promising companies to watch.
Varsity News Network, which was named as last year’s grand prize winner, has since raised $4.6 million more through three separate funding rounds from ten investors. All Accelerate Michigan companies have together raised more $120 million in funding to-date, and created 600 jobs in Michigan.
Accelerate Michigan Executive Director Lauren Bigelow said that they’re excited to see the impact of this year’s winners, even as an increasing number of entrepreneurs and businesses continue investing in the state’s economic development.
Bigelow added that they are looking forward to seeing the participating companies continue to grow and do wonderful things for the state.