Economic Development and Small Business & Startups

Innovation competition offers $1M to startups

July 22, 2014
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High school sports platform wins $500K grand prize
The athletics website for South Christian High School in Grand Rapids is powered by Varsity News Network. Photo via southchristiansports.com

A Michigan-based international startup competition is offering more than $1 million in cash and in-kind prizes for the most innovative startups — with the brightest idea receiving $500,000.

Submissions

The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition is looking for applicants for its 5th annual competition.

The deadline for submission is tomorrow. The first-round submission entails an abstract and an executive summary.

The startup selected as the “best and brightest” will receive $500,000, while other companies will receive varying amounts in prize money.

Entrepreneurs with mid-to-late-seed startups are encouraged to participate.

Submissions are accepted worldwide, but there’s a Michigan residency requirement for the top three prizes.

Judging

Semi-finalists will be selected to pitch their project to a panel of judges in Detroit from Nov. 4-6.

The judges will mainly consist of venture capitalists, angel investors and seasoned entrepreneurs. In 2013, 75 venture capitalists and angel investors participated in the competition as judges.

Innovation coalition

The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition is an initiative launched by several organizations: the Business Accelerator Network for Southeast Michigan — which includes Ann Arbor SPARK, Automation Alley, Macomb-OU INCubator and TechTown — Business Leaders for Michigan, the University Research Corridor — which includes Michigan State University, University of Michigan and Wayne State University — and the New Economy Initiative.

It was designed to “highlight Michigan as a robust and vibrant venue for innovation and business opportunity.”

Winning startup

Last year, Ryan Vaughn and his Varsity News Network in Grand Rapids received the coveted top prize of $500,000.

Varsity News Network is a platform for high school sports websites.

Vaughn described the vetting process for the competition as “extensive and rigorous.”

He noted that in addition to the prize money, the competition provided a great opportunity for connecting with other entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

“It’s like the who’s who of the people doing cool stuff in Michigan,” Vaughn said.

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