News Article

Business Accelerator Fund -- Getting Results
Date: Jun 01, 2012
Source: Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center ( click here to go to the source)

Featured firm in this article: The Mackinac Technology Company of Kentwood, MI

Sixteen business accelerators located throughout Michigan are now under contract with the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center (MI-SBTDC) under its Business Accelerator Fund (BAF) program to provide specialized business acceleration services to advanced technology companies that have high potential for success and ability to create strong positive economic impact in Michigan.

The BAF is a two year, $3 million fund that can be accessed by the sixteen statewide business accelerators to hire specialists to provide high value services to technology companies that can help those companies achieve impactful strategic milestones such as raising capital, solidifying an important strategic partnership, or enabling initial sales of a new product. The BAF links Michigan's early stage technology companies with existing manufacturers, engineering firms, and software developers as well as Michigan's research institutions to build synergistic relationship and maximize job creation for the state.

Michigan's business accelerators have dedicated and knowledgeable staff, access to experts and key contacts for tech companies, incubator space, specialized equipment, training and networking events, and other resources. But the accelerators have depended primarily on local tax capture in order to pay for acceleration services unique to company needs through expert providers. In some regions of the state this tax capture has been volatile and in others it just hasn't materialized as hoped. Because the BAF is a central fund that can be accessed by business accelerators statewide, qualified companies can receive accelerator services regardless of their location.

"The Business Accelerator Fund is a strong, well-conceived economic development tool that makes our SmartZones more effective. Since this program's inception, the BAF has acted as a necessary vehicle in assisting early-stage companies with some of their first "most-difficult" milestones towards commercialization and growth. This program's innovation mirrors Michigan's cutting-edge focus on meeting the dire needs of small businesses and helps our great state to evolve by adopting a more entrepreneurial mind set." -- Larry Herriman, Assistant Director, Macomb-OU INCubator

The BAF was awarded to the MI-SBTDC in late 2011 by the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) who works closely with the MI-SBTDC to ensure the program's success. Participating Accelerators submit proposals for BAF funding to provide services for companies in their regions. Winning proposals are selected through a rigorous and highly competitive process. Activity started in January, and to date, $489,000 has been approved to provide services to 18 companies, many of which are already delivering results. Several more projects are currently in the pipeline. Some examples of BAF engagements in process include:

Company: ArborWind

Business Accelerator: Ann Arbor SPARK

Product/technology: Patented vertical axis wind turbine initially for the small wind market.

Accelerator Services: Supporting the engineering, product testing, and marketing required for successful product launch in early 2013

Results: Help cement ArborWind's position as the most cost-efficient turbine in the world for the small wind market, based on initial turbine testing in Marshall, Michigan

Company: BioPhotonic Solutions

Technology/Product: Ultrafast Laser Technology

Business Accelerator: Lansing Economic Area Partnership

Accelerator Services: Update business plan, detailed financial modeling, comprehensive capitalization plan, development of proactive sales strategy

Results: Help BioPhotonic Solutions to expand and scale operations to keep pace with demand for the industry changing technology they have created

Company: The Mackinac Technology Company

Business Accelerator: Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center

Product/Technology: A transparent window insulation system for retrofit applications

Accelerator Services: Prototyping and engineering to demonstrate a proprietary low emissivity material

Results: Initial experiments demonstrated that the material has the requisite properties for Mackinac's application

Company: Sterilogy LLC

Business Accelerator: Automation Alley

Product/Technology: A compact body worn hand hygiene compliance enhancement and monitoring system to improve hospital patient care

Accelerator Services: BAF grant being used for finalizing the development of the system and prototype units

Results: Enable beta test with major hospital and to receive Angel Round funding

Company: Plastomer Lighting Technology

Business Accelerator: Macomb-OU INCubator

Product/Technology: Patent ambient lighting designs and assemblies so unique and cost-effective that the company achieved Tier 1 designation for GM within 12 months

Accelerator Services: Enhance its financial infrastructure, human resources and TS 16949 certification and process mapping

Results: Successfully secured private investment saving more than 20 jobs

Company: Reihl Efficient

Business Accelerator: Central Michigan University Research Corporation

Product/Technology: Evaporators for commercial walk-in coolers that will increase energy efficiency by at least 50%.

Accelerator Services: Intellectual property assistance and product testing for product certifications

Results: Patent issued. First round of funding secured. Operations being set up. Significant pre-order.

For further details on the Business Accelerator Fund as well as contact information for the Participating Accelerators, please visit
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