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Startup accelerator names inaugural cohort

September 24, 2015
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Furniture dealer outfits Start Garden
Start Garden is a nonprofit based in downtown Grand Rapids that works to create an "entrepreneurial ecosystem." Courtesy Custer

An accelerator focused on the Internet of Things market has selected startups to participate in its first three-month program.

Inaugural cohort

Seamless, an accelerator program by Start Garden and based at Start Garden, named last week its inaugural eight startups.

Each startup represents a different segment in the IoT market, which is working to connect the physical and digital words together.

Alsentis, Holland: foundational touch-recognition technology, operational in any environment

Cosign, New York: direct retail on social networks for everyday consumers

Friendly, San Ramon, Calif.: coordinated, managed triage health care over IP

Haas, Chicago: globally connected acoustic technology for early detection of emergency vehicles

Hoana, Honolulu: smart, connected hospital bed technology

NoBot, London: drone robotics technology to be used for service-based industries

Scanalytics, Milwaukee: intelligent floor sensors to monitor foot traffic, analyze consumer behavior and report actionable insights

Tractouch Mobile, Jacksonville, Fla.: embedded Bluetooth Low Energy Vibration Platform with patent-pending vibration technologies to transform mobile notifications

Mike Morin, director of Seamless, said the IoT market will become the interface for the cross-section of what matters to a person and where they are.

“Life is the handoff of people between different environments: home, work, retail, transportation,” Morin said. “Business is not just about the products, but rather how the products solves problems and connects users to a solution.”

Early stage entrepreneurs with developed products in the IoT market space seeking new opportunities were eligible to apply to participate in Seamless’ first cohort.

After two rounds of interviews, eight companies were selected from hundreds of applicants from around the world.

Accelerator program

The startups in the Seamless accelerator program received $20,000 in seed funding and will have access to more than $400,000 in pro-bono services from a network of resource partners.

The services range from financial investment, strategic consulting and mentorship from more than 75 vendors and advisors.

During the three months, each startup will work closely with major enterprises and advisors to build, test and validate their technologies, markets and business models.

The accelerator program is supported by seven Seamless Coalition partners: Amway, Steelcase, Meijer, Start Garden, Faurecia, Spectrum Health and Priority Health.

Seamless said the coalition partners will also have the opportunity to work with emerging technologies and businesses.

At least two corporate partners from the Seamless Coalition were required to sponsor a startup for it to participate in the program.

Enterprises and startups

Dana Lowell, director of advanced business development at Faurecia’s Holland-based xWorks Innovation Center, said the company’s participation in Seamless allows Faurecia to significantly increase its ability to introduce cutting-edge innovations into the automotive industry and connect people’s lives.

“Innovation is in Faurecia’s DNA and working with startups alongside other enterprises leads to cross-pollination of big ideas in unlikely or unusual applications,” Lowell said.

Jack Thorogood, co-founder and CEO of NoBot, said the U.K.-based startup needed to have a strong presence in the U.S. and a location that had a strong heritage of design, technology and manufacturing.

“We believe that spot is in Grand Rapids,” Thorogood said. “We are bringing the NoBot prototype into Seamless with the expectation of partnering with Faurecia and others in the consortium to create a ubiquitous technology that makes humans more effective at their work.”

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