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Four U-M startup companies win prizes in business plan competition

University of Michigan startup companies took home the $500,000 grand prize and the $150,000 first runner-up prize this past December at one of the nation’s largest business plan competitions.

Two other U-M-created companies received cash awards as well. The four companies were among 50 semi-finalists in the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, which awarded more than $1 million in cash prizes.

In addition, U-M student teams swept the student portion of the competition, winning all four cash awards, totaling $60,000. The event took place at U-M’s North Campus Research Complex.”Having two of our U-M startup ventures win the top two slots in this competition is testament to the quality of our research and our Venture Center process used to create these exciting opportunities,” said Kenneth Nisbet, executive director of U-M Tech Transfer.”We’re pleased for all our U-M finalists and proud of our contribution to the economic revitalization of our entire state,” Nisbet said.

Armune BioScience of Kalamazoo won the grand prize in the company competition. Armune BioScience was launched in 2008 to develop and commercialize protein signature-based diagnostic tests for prostate, lung and breast cancers that will allow physicians and patients to make better treatment decisions.

The company uses technology developed by U-M researchers Dr. Arul Chinnaiyan, a professor of pathology and urology at the U-M Medical School and director of the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology, and Dr. David Beer, a professor of surgery and of radiation oncology at the Medical School and co-director of the Cancer Genetics Program at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.Armune BioScience’s prostate cancer diagnostic test uses auto-antibodies, which are capable of diagnosing cancer earlier and more accurately than competitive technologies. The technology can also be used to detect lung and breast cancer. Additional tests will also be developed using auto-antibodies to differentiate between indolent and aggressive cancer.

Ann Arbor-based Arbor Photonics, launched in 2008, won the first runner-up prize, worth $150,000.

The company is developing high- power, fiber-laser solutions for advanced materials processing and defense applications. Arbor Photonics’ products will be lasers and laser subsystems that enable increased productivity and new capabilities in the growing $2 billion industrial laser market.Specific applications include current and next generation manufacturing of solar cells, microelectronics, flat panel displays and LEDs. Target customers are original equipment manufacturers and defense contractors.The inaugural Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition received nearly 300 entries in the startup company category. Saturday’s closing event featured welcoming remarks by U-M President Mary Sue Coleman, followed by a keynote address from Gov.-elect Rick Snyder.The other U-M winners in the company category include licensed U-M startups as well as ventures that have pending license agreements with the university, according to Nisbet. The other U-M company winners are:

Life Magnetics, which won the Encore award for $25,000, is an early stage diagnostics company that is developing a novel platform for bacteria identification and antimicrobial susceptibility testing. The company’s proprietary technology platform is sensitive to single cell changes, allowing for significantly faster time to test results. The ability to rapidly and accurately monitor bacterial growth and response to chemical agents with single-cell sensitivity provides the opportunity to significantly improve patient outcomes while lowering the cost of care and mitigating the spread of drug-resistant bacteria.

Life Magnetics will be the first tenant in U-M Tech Transfer’s new Venture Accelerator within the North Campus Research Complex. The accelerator will provide facilities and business services for emerging U-M startups.

CSquared Innovations won the $25,000 Next Gen Manufacturing award. CSquared is deploying laser-assisted atmospheric plasma deposition technology which offers a high-speed, cost-effective and highly scalable “platform” approach to the synthesis of nanostructural materials and films for large-area lithium-ion battery electrodes, photovoltaic materials and industrial coatings.

The awards were given by the Business Accelerator Network for Southeast Michigan in partnership with the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan, Business Leaders for Michigan and the University Research Corridor, which is an alliance between U-M, Michigan State University and Wayne State University.

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