Six early-stage companies from Oakland and Wayne counties will receive $375,000 in funding from the Innovation Fund Macomb Community College, Powered by JPMorgan Chase & Co. The unique initiative provides mentoring and capital to early-stage businesses, as well as learning opportunities for Macomb Community College’s students
The Innovation Fund is a $2.7 million effort to stimulate economic development and job growth among promising Detroit-area entrepreneurs and next-stage companies with high-growth potential. Funding is provided by Macomb Community College’s Strategic Fund and JPMorgan Chase, as part of the company’s $100 million commitment to Detroit’s economic recovery.
Companies funded by the Innovation Fund are required to provide internships or learning experiences for Macomb Community College students. Students not only have the opportunity to develop valuable workplace skills, but gain first-hand exposure to entrepreneurship. More than 230 Macomb Community College students have benefited from the fund’s first year of operation.
“The Macomb Innovation Fund is about cultivating innovation, fostering entrepreneurship and creating jobs” said Dr. James Jacobs, president, Macomb Community College. “In a little over a year of administering the fund, we’ve already seen a great return in not only the progress of our portfolio of funded companies but also in the experiences and energy that these entrepreneurs are bringing to the real-world education of Macomb Community College students.”
“Innovative job creators like these are generating opportunities that will help build a stronger economy in the Detroit area,” said Chauncy Lennon, Head of Workforce Initiatives, JPMorgan Chase. “Our investment in this fund is giving young people the valuable skills and financial boost they need to get their businesses off the ground and continue to help Detroit comeback.”
Since the Macomb Innovation Fund began making awards in July 2015, $1.175 million in commitments have been made to 19 companies. In addition, these companies have generated nearly $3.3 million in follow-on funding.
Three companies will receive awards that are designed to advance the progress of emerging companies toward larger-scale funding. These companies must provide matching funding and commit to paying back the award:
- ENT Biotech Solutions (Grosse Pointe Farms/ Wayne County) – $100,000 award. ENT Biotech Solutions has developed an FDA-approved medical device for use by otolaryngologists (physicians trained in the medical and surgical management and treatment of patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat (ENT), and related structures of the head and neck) to remove tonsils/adenoids and soft tissue.
- Sentinl (Detroit/ Wayne County) – $100,000 award. Sentinl is focused on creating tools to support responsible gun ownership and has developed a biometric trigger lock that sits over a handgun trigger and instantly opens and drops off the weapon when an authorized user is detected.
- SPLT (Detroit/ Wayne County) – $100,000 award. SPLT is an enterprise carpooling platform that partners with corporations, universities and municipalities with a sustainable ridesharing technology that saves money, time and natural resources. Recently, the company partnered with Lyft to provide non-emergency medical transportation to help the elderly with mobility.
Receiving awards of $25,000, which are designed to support early-stage businesses taking the initial steps in market introduction, are:
- CityInsight (Detroit/ Washtenaw County) – $25,000 award. The company has developed its first product CityWater™, an app and website that enable residents to track water usage in real time, easily access billing information and receive mobile customer support. CityInsight’s first customer is the City of Detroit.
- Make-Cup Concepts (Commerce / Oakland County) – $25,000 award. Make-Cup Concepts developed a “makeup-in-a-cup” system that features special compartments to hold brushes, powders, eye shadows, lip, lash products and more in a thermally protected, sanitary, earth-friendly container. Users can customize their palette and refill cosmetics, reducing plastic waste.
- Sign-On C.P.R. (Grosse Pointe/ Wayne County) – $25,000 award. Sign-On C.P.R. has developed and launched a “Virtual Immersion Program,” so that American Sign Language (ASL) learners can overcome the limited opportunities to practice with a deaf individual, which is required for certification. The portal allows students to easily access and schedule a 30-minute live session with a deaf individual, while providing living wage employment opportunities for the deaf community.
The six companies awarded funding were selected from a field of 47 qualified applicants. Each went through a two-stage process, pitching first to a screening committee. The highest-rated companies moved on to a selection committee comprised of area professionals with experience in business management, finance, law, manufacturing and technology, who made final award recommendations.
The deadline for the next application cycle for the Macomb Innovation Fund awards is December 15, 2016. To be eligible for the Innovation Fund, companies must locate within a nine-county region consisting of Genesee, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Shiawassee, St. Clair, Washtenaw or Wayne counties. Information about the application process is available atwww.macomb.edu/cie.