Zell Lurie Supported Startups Present at the Accelerate Michigan Business Plan Competition

Shannon Beeman
November 29, 2011

Last week, the Accelerate Michigan business plan competition took place at the University of Michigan’s North Campus Research Complex in Ann Arbor where students and companies presented their business plans. Of the 28 teams that presented at the business plan competition, ten companies had received previous support from the Zell Lurie Institute ranging from funding, coaching, and tenancy in TechArb (an office space for students working developing their business idea), to direct exposure to investors at the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium.

Among the companies with former ties to the Zell Lurie Institute is DeNovo Sciences. Founded by Kaylan Handique, DeNovo Sciences provides a user-friendly platform for cancer research and diagnosis.  Specif­i­cally, the com­pany plans to sell an instru­ment sys­tem and reagent kit that allows for the sep­a­ra­tion, detec­tion, and retrieval of cir­cu­lat­ing tumor cells (CTCs) from periph­eral whole blood.  The Institute had helped Kalyan Handique with the business plan development of a previous company he founded, HandyLab. That company ultimately went on to receive several rounds of investments from the student-led Wolverine Venture Fund.

Four of the semi-finalists at Accelerate Michigan had previously presented at the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium, an annual venture capital conference held by the Zell Lurie Institute where presenting companies are provided coaching and the opportunity to pitch in front of investors from across the U.S.  In addition of the companies below one received investment from the student-led Frankel Fund. They are:

  • Fusion Coolant Systems (2011) provides a cool­ing and lubri­ca­tion sys­tem which increases pro­duc­tion rates and tool life.
  • NEXTGEN Metabolomics (2011) has devel­oped pro­pri­etary dis­rup­tive tech­nol­ogy and prod­ucts which allow faster and more con­cise mea­sure­ments of the effects of dis­ease (diag­nos­tics), tox­ins (tox­i­col­ogy), drugs (phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal, bio­process), and food (agri­cul­ture, nutri­tion) on any liv­ing organ­ism and will become the foun­da­tion upon which the metabolomic industry will be built.
  • Accio Energy, Inc., (2010) is an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based early-stage renewable energy company which is developing unique “turbine-less” wind energy generation technology, specifically though the Aero­voltaic™ sys­tems.
  • Phrixus Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, Inc., (2010) a clinical-stage spe­cialty phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany, is a startup company devel­op­ing Carme­seal™ to treat car­diac dys­func­tion and dilated car­diomy­opa­thy (DCM) in patients with Duchenne mus­cu­lar dys­tro­phy (DMD) and acute decom­pen­sated HF (ADHF).

The winner of the $25,000 student competition first prize Are You a Human (AYAH) uses games for human ver­i­fi­ca­tion online through their PlayThru program.  PlayThrus are a five to ten second game which allows advertisers, as well as AYAH, to score the humanness of the interaction.  As a Detroit-based web startup, AYAH has been actively involved in securing multiple financial investments and other aid from the Zell Lurie Institute.  AYAH has a long list of grants and scholarships including a Dare to Dream grant ($5,000), Ann Arbor SPARK Boot Camp Scholarship ($1,000), TechArb tenancy, winnings from the Rice Business Plan Competition ($154,100), and a Frankel Fund investment.  All of these opportunities and investments were a direct result of the programs and mentoring provided by the Zell Lurie Institute.

Another highlight of the Accelerate Michigan business plan competition was the success of previous Dare to Dream recipients, a grant program that awards up to $10,000 to promising student start up companies.  Four recipients of Dare to Dream grants took home prizes or placed as finalists at the Accelerate Michigan business plan competition.  These student companies include:  AddressMe, an app to update, share, and group addresses and print off labels; Fashion Forward Maternity, a University of Michigan concept which bills itself as the Netflix of maternity fashion; Design Inno­va­tions for Infants/Mothers Everywhere (DIIME) (winning a $10,00 student People’s Choice Award), a high-quality low-cost technologies that increase access to maternal and infant care in limited resource settings (the company entered the Michigan Business Challenge and was also awarded  TechArb tenancy); and MEMStim, a semi-conductor company that designs and sells electrode leads to medical device companies for use in neurostimulators.  In the past, MEMStim won the Michigan Business Challenge ($27,000), a multi-stage business plan competition for University of Michigan students, the San Diego State University Venture Challenge ($5,000) and the Venture Labs Investment Competition ($1,000).

Congratulations to all teams who participated!