Sharpening the competitive edge

MEDC Staff

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Michigan Strategic Fund expands funding for entrepreneurial and incubator services across state

It’s part of keeping the entrepreneurial spark alive.

On Tuesday (Jan. 23), the Michigan Strategic Fund approved funding of more than $1.7 million for five grants supporting entrepreneurial collaborations.

Grant recipients include TechTown’s Detroit Technology Exchange (DTX) Business Incubator ($250,000); Automation Alley’s Business Incubator (7Cs) ($500,000); Lawrence Technology University’s Gatekeeper Business Incubator ($100,000); 2015 Business Incubator-Gatekeeper ($574,338); and, 2016 Business Incubator-Gatekeeper ($299,961).

“Collaboration resources such as those available through Automation Alley, TechTown and SmartZones across Michigan are essential in providing our state’s entrepreneurs the necessary support needed to spark innovation and spur the business economy,” said Fred Molnar, vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation. 

“The continued funding of these programs demonstrates their impact in building and growing startups in Michigan, and in attracting out-of-state talent,” he said.

From 2007 to 2016, TechTown has served more than 1,800 companies at its Midtown. In turn, these businesses created nearly 1,300 jobs and leveraged more than $120 million in start-up capital.

TechTown’s DTX program supports a startup accelerator for students, an entrepreneur-in-residence placement program and integrated ecosystem services. Since its inception, DTX has helped 33 new companies form, assisted 42 companies in expanding, created 165 new jobs, helped companies raise over $11.4 million in follow-on-funding and $88.7 million in new sales, and served 397 technology based companies.

Automation Alley is Michigan’s leading nonprofit technology and manufacturing business association. Its 7Cs program is aimed at accelerating the growth of small businesses and startups across Michigan, with a specific emphasis on advanced manufacturing startups. Since the beginning of the 7Cs program grant, Automation Alley has supported the formation of 14 new companies, created 51 new jobs, and assisted companies in raising over $14.7 million in follow-on-funding. 

The additional approved funding extensions include the Gatekeeper Business Incubator grant for Lawrence Technological University and the 2015 and 2016 Business Incubator Gatekeeper grants for the following SmartZones: Ann Arbor SPARK East, Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti SmartZone; Central Michigan University Research Corporation, Mt. Pleasant SmartZone; Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), Lansing Regional SmartZone; Macomb-Oakland University Incubator, Sterling Heights SmartZone; Muskegon Innovation Hub, Muskegon SmartZone; Midland Tomorrow Innovation Center, Midland SmartZone; Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine (WMU Med), Kalamazoo SmartZone; Innovate Marquette Enterprise Corporation (IMQT), Marquette SmartZone; Lakeshore Advantage, Holland SmartZone; Lenawee Now, Adrian and Tecumseh SmartZone; Michigan Tech Enterprise Corporation (MTEC), Houghton and Hancock SmartZone; and, SSMart-Lake Superior State University, Sault Ste Marie SmartZone.

Michigan SmartZones provide distinct geographical locations where technology-based firms, entrepreneurs and researchers receive access to business accelerator services, including business development mentoring, incubator and wet lab space, technology assessments, market analysis, product development and entrepreneurial training. The gatekeeper position is responsible for assisting companies in navigating the entrepreneurial ecosystem and accessing the various services and programs provided by SmartZones. Under the grants they’ve previously received, these SmartZones have helped 231 companies form, served 1,695 companies, created 730 jobs, retained 4,223 jobs, and assisted companies in raising over $286 million with an additional $125 million in sales. 

“With its abundant resources and commitment to innovation, Michigan remains a fertile environment for entrepreneurs to realize their dreams and to start and grow a business,” said Marilyn Clark, CEO at MTEC SmartZone. “Today’s approval of additional funding reinforces that commitment, while acknowledging the tremendous impact entrepreneurs have on the state’s economic growth.” 

MEDC’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation initiative establishes Michigan as the place to create and grow a business by providing high-tech start-up companies with access to a variety of critical resources, such as funding and expert counsel, from ideation to maturation. For more on MEDC Entrepreneurship & Innovation, visit

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