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MSU Conquer Accelerator launches first Grand Rapids cohort 

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The Story

A Michigan State University Foundation accelerator program that provides funding, mentorship and network opportunities to emerging entrepreneurs launched a Grand Rapids cohort.

East Lansing-based Conquer Accelerator last month launched its first Grand Rapids season and fall 2020 cohort.

The 10-week accelerator welcomed five selected teams to its Grand Rapids program, which began virtually Sept. 14 and runs through Nov. 20: Airway Innovations, Building Catalyst, FirstIgnite, Lawnbot and The Patient Company.

“Conquer Accelerator helps entrepreneurs successfully build and launch a viable company,” said Thomas Stewart, Conquer Accelerator program manager. “I think the Grand Rapids cohort is a great representation of the talent in the region, and I’m looking forward to helping push these businesses to the next level.”

Conquer Accelerator is a collaborative effort made possible through partnerships with parent organization Michigan State University Foundation and its subsidiaries Spartan Innovations, Red Cedar Ventures, Michigan Rise and University Corporate Research Park, as well as sponsorships from Foster Swift, Axios HR and Spectrum Health.

The accelerator program supports rising startups by providing $20,000 in funding, access to 40-plus mentors, access to follow-on funding and other essential resources.

With collaboration between the Grand Rapids SmartZone Local Development Finance Authority and the Conquer Accelerator team, the program aims to expand community and corporate outreach, as well as support for startups in the Grand Rapids area.

Jeremiah Garcia Courtesy Robb McCormick Photography

“We are happy to launch the first Conquer Accelerator cohort in Grand Rapids and look forward to the impact the companies will have on our economy,” said Jeremiah Gracia, director of economic development with the city of Grand Rapids.

In addition to receiving up to $20,000 in seed funding, selected startups will receive tailored mentorship from leaders within their respective industries, entrepreneurship training, as well as access to a network of angel and venture investors. Once companies move on from the accelerator, they become part of Red Cedar Ventures’ investment portfolio, where they continue to receive support and guidance.

Since 2015, Conquer Accelerator has launched 20 active startups. Those companies have gone on to raise over $3 million in additional funding.

2020’s Conquer Accelerator Grand Rapids season one teams:

  • Airway Innovations, which designs and develops advanced airway management solutions, including TubeTrac, the oral tracheal tube holder designed to prevent unplanned extubations
  • Building Catalyst, a software as a service platform that more accurately predicts and guides construction outcomes at a fraction of the effort compared to current practices
  • FirstIgnite, which built AI-powered business development tools that help the trillions of dollars’ worth of uncommercialized research and intellectual property get to market
  • Lawnbot, which makes software used by home service companies of all sizes — from startups to enterprise — to give instant proposals, make online sales and grow their businesses online.
  • The Patient Company, which developed and produced SimPull, the first fully automated lateral patient transfer device

Source: Conquer Accelerator launches first Grand Rapids cohort – Grand Rapids Business Journal

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