Startups from NextEnergy, Bizdom win big at Accelerate Michigan


Startups with close ties to two Detroit-based business accelerators practically swept the top prizes the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition last week.

Clients of NextEnergy and Bizdom took home 83 percent of the $810,000 in prize money, including the top two spots worth a combined $600,000 in seed capital. NextEnergy’s startups led the way, taking home four prizes in the competition.

"The companies we work with are in a pretty good spot," says Jean Redfield, president & CEO of NextEnergy. She adds that 13 NextEnergy client startups made the semifinals, too. "They tend to do pretty well because they got pretty good support."

The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition is an annual business plan competition held in downtown Detroit. It awards $1 million in seed capital and services to new economy startups either based in Michigan or looking to move to the Great Lakes State.

SkySpecs took home the top prize worth $500,000 for its sophisticated collision-avoidance system for drones that enables them to inspect wind turbines, utility towers, and other pieces of infrastructure. NextEnergy helped the Ann Arbor-based company with its go-to-market strategy, partnerships matchmaking, and fundraising.

Cribspot was named the runner up ($100,000) for its software platform that helps connect college students to off-campus rental housing. The one-year-old startup graduated from Bizdom earlier this year and just finished raising a $660,000 seed round.

The following NextEnergy client startups won sub-category prizes worth $25,000 each: Solartonic (Energy), Ornicept (IT), and Inventev (Transportation). Redfield points out that the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition helps these companies not only by providing them with seed capital, networking opportunities, and exposure, but also with a good inspiration to move quickly.

"It gives them a set of deadlines and high expectations to perform to," Redfield says. "We always speak about speed in regards to startups. Competition deadlines are a great way to bring speed to the table."

Source: Jean Redfield, president & CEO of NextEnergy
Writer: Jon Zemke

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

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