Three early-stage companies from Livingston, Washtenaw and Wayne counties will receive a total of $225,000 in funding from the Innovation Fund Macomb Community College, Powered by JPMorgan Chase & Co. The companies represent a broad spectrum of market solutions, including a configurable, advanced suspension system for the transportation market, an app that provides personalized recommendations for affordable art and a new concept in baby bottles.
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. Support 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.
“Each subsequent award cycle of the Innovation Fund has brought increasingly stronger business concepts to the table” said Dr. James Jacobs, President, Macomb Community College. “Our unique approach in pairing early access to capital and education is clearly creating new momentum in our regional’s entrepreneurial ecosphere, while creating distinctive learning opportunities for Macomb’s students to work with and learn from those who think outside the box.”
Companies receiving funding from the Innovation Fund are required to provide internships or learning experiences for Macomb Community College students. Students will not only have the opportunity to develop valuable workplace skills, but will also gain first-hand exposure to entrepreneurship.
“The success of Detroit-area entrepreneurs is vital to the city’s recovery,” said Chauncy Lennon, Head of Workforce Initiatives, JPMorgan Chase. “The Innovation Fund continues to support local businesses that are not only creating jobs, but are serving their communities and powering the regional economy.”
Two companies will receive $100,000 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:
Kollecto (Detroit/ Wayne County) – $100,000 award. Kollecto describes itself as “Pandora for affordable art.” The company employs web scraping technology to identify art from galleries around the world and provides personalized recommendations for the purchase of affordable art, typically in the $200 - $3,000 range. With users in nearly 300 cities worldwide, Kollecto also manages the purchase of the artwork and offers installment payment plans.
Aktv8 (pronounced as “activate”) (Brighton/ Livingston County) – $100,000 award. Aktv8 has developed a simple and configurable advanced electronic suspension system for commercial vehicle manufacturers. The system helps to improve the ride and handling, safety, and loaded vehicle performance. Applicable vehicles include Class 8 trucks, ambulances, buses, work trucks, trucks towing trailers, performance cars, and recreational vehicles and coaches.
Receiving an award of $25,000, which is designed to support developing businesses taking the initial steps in market introduction, is:
Flipsi (Ann Arbor/ Washtenaw County) – $25,000 award. Flipsi was born out of a deep frustration with trying to adequately clean reusable drinking bottles. The company’s first product is a new baby bottle, which can be flipped inside-out to facilitate easy cleaning and thorough drying. The bottle is made with BPA-free, FDA approved food-grade silicone and plastic.
The three awarded companies were selected from a field of 25 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 business leaders with experience in management, finance, law, manufacturing and technology, who made final award recommendations.
This is the third cycle of awards for the Innovation Fund, representing a total of $800,000 in award commitments to 13 companies. 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.
About JPMorgan Chase & Co.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.4 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, and asset management. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of consumers in the United States and many of the world's most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. The firm uses its global resources, expertise, insights and scale to address some of the most urgent challenges facing communities around the world including the need for increased economic opportunity. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.
About Macomb Community College
Macomb Community College (www.macomb.edu) is one of the nation’s leading community colleges, providing learning experiences to more than 48,000 students annually. Macomb grants the largest number of associate degrees in Michigan and nationally ranks in the top two percent in the number of associate degrees awarded by community colleges. The college’s comprehensive educational programming includes pre-collegiate experiences, university transfer and career preparation programs, bachelor-degree completion and graduate degree programs, workforce training, professional education and certification, and continuing education and enrichment opportunities.