Copyright 2024 SPARK

New Enterprise Forum is excited to announce our upcoming NEF Forum Meeting on Thursday, April 20. The live portion kicks off at 5:00 p.m. at Ann Arbor SPARK with food, drink, and networking. Online webinar coverage will begin at 5:45 p.m.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Skip Simms

New Enterprise Forum will be presenting Skip Simms, former Ann Arbor SPARK vice president and Michigan Angel Fund managing member, with a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his substantial contributions to the startup ecosystem in the state of Michigan. This award will be presented by Rick Snyder, co-founder and CEO of SensCy and the former Governor of Michigan. Skip and Rick will share stories about their early days of working together at Ann Arbor SPARK and Michigan Angel Fund.

Showcase Presentations: 

Enspired Solutions was founded in 2021 to tackle one of the most pressing environmental issues worldwide: per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of synthetic compounds dubbed “forever chemicals” due to their high stability in natural environments. Enspired Solutions aims to commercialize a patented technology to permanently remove and destroy PFAS through a process that transforms toxic PFAS into nontoxic byproducts.

Denise Kay, co-founder and CEO, holds a PhD from the Michigan State University Institute of Environmental Toxicology. Her sixteen years of experience includes evaluation of chemical transfer, availability, fate and effect. She is the author of more than thirty peer-reviewed articles on the topics including environmental toxicology, contaminant sorption and bioavailabilty.

Pitch Pit:

Selected entrepreneurs will each give a four-minute pitch of their business idea to a panel of investor judges in a “Shark Tank” format. PowerPoint slides are not permitted. Think of it as the proverbial “elevator speech.” After each pitch, the judges will give detailed feedback and score the business. Our April contestants include:

  • Jessica Black, founder and CEO of BerryClean, LLC
  • Thomas Coke, CEO of Varsity Gems
  • Mathew Piccinato, founder of Vocabulist


  • Diane Durance, president of Michigan Capital Network
  • Jeffery Rinvelt, partner at Renaissance Venture Capital
  • Ashley Williams, founder and CEO of RIZZARR


At the conclusion of the Forum, stick around and network with the movers and shakers of Ann Arbor’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.