(DETROIT — June 18, 2012) MitoStem, a life sciences company specializing in regenerative medicine, won the top prize, a $100,000 SmartZone Award, at the Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest (GLEQ) business plan competition for Michigan entrepreneurs. Detroit-based MitoStem specializes in turning human adult cells into “pluripotent” cells that can be used to replace damaged tissue cells in that same individual.
MitoStem President and CEO Jim Eliason accepted the award on behalf of the company. A veteran biotech entrepreneur, Eliason played an integral role in the startup success of publicly traded Asterand, the world’s largest supplier of human tissue samples and TechTown’s first official tenant. He also is the director of the Great Lakes Stem Cell Innovation Center, a novel laboratory in which multiple TechTown life sciences and regenerative medicine startups like MitoStem can cost-effectively share space and collaborate to accelerate the pace of technology transfer and commercialization. The Great Lakes Stem Cell Innovation Center is one of the few commercialization centers of its kind in the nation, and it was a key factor in persuading organizers of the 2010 World Stem Cell Summit to hold that international conference in Detroit.
According to Eliason, TechTown played a critical role in helping MitoStem win the GLEQ SmartZone Award.
“Entrepreneurship doesn’t come naturally to scientists and researchers,” Eliason said. “It’s a learning process that is much accelerated by the support and resources of Michigan-centric programs like GLEQ and business incubators like TechTown. TechTown’s business coaches and mentors helped us refine our business plan and perfect our pitch such that we were 100 percent prepared by the time we actually presented our case for funding at GLEQ.”
Other TechTown companies participating in this year’s GLEQ include Blue Water BioProducts, which won the $5,000 Green Chemistry Innovation Award, and startups Regaingo and Hygia.
The $100,000 SmartZone Award is a pre-seed investment. MitoStem has won smaller GLEQ financial awards in past years. Both the New Business Idea and Emerging Company categories, for example, have multiple cash awards. The top prize for New Business Idea is $5,000; for Emerging Company it’s $25,000. According to the GLEQ website, entrepreneurs must select a competition category based on their venture’s stage of development. The New Business Idea category is appropriate for early-stage ventures and entrepreneurs exploring and developing new business ideas. The Emerging Company category is for revenue-generating businesses and ventures in the initial stages of commercializing technology. Additional innovation and regional awards are available to participants in the New Business Idea and Emerging Company categories.
“GLEQ is a fantastic entrepreneurial platform and a critical component of the startup ecosystem in the State of Michigan,” said TechTown President and CEO Leslie Smith. “TechTown is proud our companies continue to show well in the GLEQ competition, which is a validation of the quality of novel technologies, deal flow and entrepreneurial leadership located within the City of Detroit. A win for MitoStem is a win for all of us.”
CONTACT: Michelle Welsh – (313) 450-3883, firstname.lastname@example.org