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The excitement is building. Entries are in and we are gearing up for Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition Event November 12 -14, 2013. Now in its fourth year, Accelerate Michigan is an international business competition that brings together entrepreneurial companies with local and national investment capital. It showcases the best and brightest new businesses to help foster their growth within Michigan.  Each year, fifty innovative companies and twenty five top student companies compete for almost $1 million in prize monies.   In 2012, sixty venture capitalists from fifty one firms judged the competition – providing a great network across the country.

If you’re an entrepreneur or in any way engaged in the innovation community, or if you are looking to get engaged, here are four good reasons you should join us.

Reason #1: Networking opportunities with innovators and investors

As an attendee, you get to network with innovative young companies as well as those holding billions of dollars of venture capital. In addition to local Michigan and Ohio firms, the competition has investors coming in from across North America – Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, Palo Alto, and San Francisco, as well as Toronto and Vancouver.  The competition is the largest gathering of venture and institutional investors in Michigan where the public is welcome and encouraged to attend.

Reason #2: A chance to ‘test out’ your elevator pitch

Accelerate Michigan is an ideal place to test out your business idea with potential investors. Prepare your short pitch before you head out.  You don’t know how much time you’ll have with someone before you’re interrupted, so if you give the high level overview in 60-90 seconds, they will always walk away with a picture about your opportunity.  My rule of thumb with companies is to have them put together this framework and modify it to their own style.  My company (insert name) is developing/manufacturing a product (insert tech) to solve a particular problem (insert) for a specific audience (insert).  Our competitive edge is (insert).

Reason #3: Get business pitch pointers from the competitors

Accelerate Michigan is a great opportunity to learn from other firms seeking to grow their business. By attending, you are able observe first-hand how the competing innovators present their story to the investment community. You will walk away with valuable pointers that you can apply to help your current or developing business idea.

Reason #4: Support innovation in Michigan

The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition is at the epicenter of the burgeoning community that’s fostering start-up incubation, acceleration, and finance in Michigan. The focus on local entrepreneurship has been growing exponentially over the last decade. We welcome you to join in and share the excitement.

To get more details about the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition event, or to register, go to www.

About the Author

Lauren Bigelow is the CEO of the Growth Capital Network (GCN) which serves the business community by executing programs in the entrepreneurial space – from commercialization through mid-market.  She also leads GCN Analytics, an impact evaluation and data firm.  With these platforms, Lauren runs the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, the Midwest Green Technology Entrepreneur Academy, and the Midwest Midmarket Capital Survey.  Lauren is on the advisory boards of the Erb Institute at the Ross School of Business, the Frankel Fund, and New Enterprise Forum. She received a B.A. from the University of Michigan and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Northwestern University.