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Ann Arbor Spark

August 8, 2018

Accelerate Michigan Retrospective

A look-back at SPARK clients who have competed and won at Michigan’s premier pitch competition

The annual Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition (AMIC) kicks off this month as deadlines loom for company registration (8/15) and application (8/31). The event, taking place November 13 in Detroit, is a pitch competition that supports Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Ann Arbor SPARK is once again pleased to continue its eight-year tradition of being the sole Investor-level sponsor, contributing $250,000 to the grand prize.

Each company competes for a grand prize of $500,000 with additional cash prizes available by industry and People’s Choice. Many of the semi-finalists and winners throughout the years have used SPARK services, including the 2014 grand prize winner, SkySpecs.

Danny Ellis, CEO of SkySpecs said, “Winning AMIC was instrumental in our growth, allowing us to operate for another year before we raised our first priced round of funding.” Though they were completing a TechStars program in New York City, they always had plans to keep their office in Ann Arbor. “Winning AMIC allowed that plan to become a reality and ultimately led to us hiring an even stronger team and building our first commercially viable product.”

A former SPARK East tenant that competed at AMIC is Workit Health, a company founded in 2014 by two women who developed an online addiction treatment and support service. They won the 2016 People’s Choice Award taking home $25,000. Workit Health has graduated from their SPARK incubator space to their own Ann Arbor office, and still utilize many of SPARK’s entrepreneurial services.

“In Workit Health’s early days, winning the Accelerate Michigan competition was a pivotal moment which launched us on our current path to growth in the state of Michigan,” shared Kali Lux, head of marketing. “We now have an active Ann Arbor opioid treatment clinic, serving patients from around the state digitally. Accelerate Michigan is a vital source of support for the local, thriving startup scene in Michigan, and a service to the community.”

Other past winners include two additional female-lead companies, Mi Padrino ($100,000 in 2017) and Spellbound ($10,000 in 2017). In addition to Workit Health in 2016, SPARK clients JOOL Health ($50,000) and Movellus Circuits ($25,000) took home cash prizes. In 2015, six companies served by SPARK were announced winners, including Genomenon taking home second place ($100,000).

AMIC is a great event to see various entrepreneurs competing to be number one.  We hope to see you there.