Make it


At NEI we are changing the face of our future by helping make thousands of ideas become the next economic engine. Granting. Convening. Changing a culture. All while getting the entrepreneurs and small businesses that will drive it, what they need, when they need it.

$500,000 in cash awards.
32 existing businesses.
Detroit. Hamtramck. Highland Park.

Berry Gordy was a business man who knew a good song when he heard one. But even with success, he wondered, “Why write songs for a company in New York only to be paid pennies on the dollar in royalties?” He had a bigger idea: bottle a sound, polish it up, and package it for the world under one roof in Detroit. Gordy just needed a little nudge and, in 1959, he got one. An $800 loan from his family (the equivalent of $6,400 today) helped Gordy build Motown Records and grow a legacy.

So, what’s your idea?

How does it work? Simple. You provide the idea, in two-hundred words. We provide the money to make it happen. NEIdeas will award a total of $500,000 through the below two types of awards. Entry for applications opens on May 8th.


Tom Walsh: $500K contest gives real jolt, not just lip service, to Detroit small-business owners

What would you do, as proprietor of a very small business, if somebody dropped $10,000 on you that you wouldn’t have to pay back? Alicia George, co-owner of Motor City Java & Tea House with two partners, didn’t hesitate Wednesday when I asked her the question. “We would buy more equipment, blenders and coolers, maybe hire a part-time person to help expand our off-site catering,” she said, envisioning her 4-year-old... More...

NEI Stories

Henry Ford Innovation Institute

Henry Ford Innovation Institute occupies a magnificent space in the heart of Henry Ford Health... More...

First Step Fund

The First Step Fund, a revolving loan pool for emerging small businesses located in Southeast... More...


Crain’s: Small-business program to award $500,000 in Detroit, Highland Park, Hamtramck

Jan 1, 1970 ,

And they say there’s no such thing as free money. This morning, the New Economy... Learn More...