Katy Teer, Airfoil Public Relations
(248) 304-1460

For Immediate Release:
December 13, 2010

Armune BioScience wins grand prize for the top company, and ReGenerate
takes home the prize for best student business idea

DETROIT, DEC. 13, 2010 – The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition awarded over $1 million in cash and in-kind services on Saturday to the winners of the world’s largest business plan competition. The grand prize of $500,000 in cash was awarded to Kalamazoo, Mich.-based Armune BioScience and grand prize of $25,000 for the student portion of the competition was awarded toUniversity of Michigan students Hunt Briggs, Paul M. Davis, Robert Levine and Nolan Orfield for their company ReGenerate.

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 during the inaugural Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition at the University of Michigan’s North Campus Research Complex in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Armune BioScience, a molecular diagnostic company, took the top company award for developing a technology that utilizes autoantibodies created by the body’s own immune system to detect cancer at an early stage. Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Arbor Photonics received the $150,000 company first runner up prize for the development of a fiber optic technology platform used in high power laser solutions which will improve manufacturing efficiencies and enable new capabilities in advanced manufacturing and defense.

In the student category, ReGenerate received the top student prize for their Compact Organic Waste System (COWS) which transforms unwanted and costly organic waste into a renewable source of electricity and nutrient-rich compost. Targeted toward university cafeterias and supermarkets, the system provides a lower cost and environmentally preferable alternative to traditional waste disposal. University of Michigan Students Zaher Andraus, Vimal B. Bhalodia and Matthew Neagle received the $15,000 first runner up prize for their company Reveal Design Automation which provides the electronic design market with the software tools to verify correctness of complex, digital chip designs.

“We congratulate all the companies and students this year for demonstrating their competitive entrepreneurial spirit,” said Dave Egner, Executive Director of the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan. “Armune BioScience and ReGenerate topped a list of nearly 600 outstanding businesses and students that initially entered the competition. These companies demonstrate how the entrepreneurial ecosystem continues to grow and thrive in a state that was built on the foundation of innovation.”

The competition began with a total of 600 entries and was then narrowed down to 50 company semi-finalists, and 28 student/student team semi-finalists. Ten company and 10 student/student-team finalists competed on the final days of the competition for a chance at a piece of the more $1 million in cash, in-kind services, staffing and software.

Additional Award winners for the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition include:

Company Competition: 

Company Sector awards – $25,000 prize each

Student Competition:

  • First Runner Up – $15,000: Reveal Design Automation; Zaher Andraus, Vimal B. Bhalodia, Matthew Neagle – University of Michigan
  • Second Runner Up – $10,000: MiEND- Drug Screeners; Darius Banasik, Trushal V. Chokshi – University of Michigan
  • People’s Choice Award – $10,000: June Energy; Md. Shahnoor Amin, Allan R. Taylor, Abdrahamane Traore – University of Michigan

The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition also recognized Sam Valenti as their first Spirit of Michigan Award winner. The Spirit of Michigan Award winner recognizes a person that epitomizes the entrepreneurial spirit and understands the need to support entrepreneurialism from the ground up.

Valenti is Chairman of the Board of TriMas Corporation, a billion dollar manufacturer of highly engineered precision products for industry. He also serves as Chairman and C.E.O. of Valenti Capital and World Capital Partners, investment firms located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He is the former President of Masco Capital Corporation, and a 40 year veteran of Masco Corporation, a Fortune 500 manufacturer of homebuilding and home improvement products.

Valenti is also the former Chairman of the Investment Advisory Board of the $50 billion State of Michigan retirement system. In his nearly 20 year participation with the Advisory Board, Mr. Valenti spearheaded the State’s initial investments in venture capital as well as a broad range of alternative investments.

He serves on the Harvard Business School Advisory Council. He also serves on the Advisory Council at the University of Notre Dame and the Advisory Board at the University of Michigan Business School Zell-Lurie Institute. Valenti is a member of Business Leaders for Michigan and serves as Chairman of the Renaissance Venture Capital Fund.

The New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan granted Ann Arbor SPARK $750,000 to launch the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition on behalf of the Business Accelerator Network for Southeast Michigan, which is composed of four of the region’s key business accelerators – Ann Arbor SPARKAutomation AlleyMacomb-OU INCubator, and TechTown. Joining the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition as premier sponsors is Accelerate Michigan.

The success of the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition is also supported by AARP, CISCO, Comcast, DTE Energy, Esperion Therapeutics, Health Alliance Plan (HAP), Ford Motor Company, General Dynamics Land Systems, MASCO Corporation Foundation, Strategic Staffing Solutions, Toyota, Whirlpool Corporation, Arsenal Venture Partners, Bodman LLP, MichBio, ProQuest, Seneca Partners, SMART (Sustainable Mobility & Accessibility Research & Transformation), TranslinkeD, ForeSee Results, U-M Dearborn College of Engineering, Quicken Loans, Butzel Long, Grubb & Ellis, Menlo Innovations, U-M Health System, Detroit Regional Chamber, Schox Patent Group, Corp! Magazine, Ram Sun Services, Bank of Ann Arbor, Bizdom U, Michigan Radio, Michigan Venture Capital Association, and the National Association of Seed and Venture Funds.

For more information about the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, visit, or connect with the competition via FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

About the Business Accelerator Network for Southeast Michigan

The Business Accelerator Network for Southeast Michigan is a region-wide network for building and retaining new business in southeast Michigan. Composed of the region’s four key business accelerators – Ann Arbor SPARKAutomation AlleyMacomb-OU INCubator, and TechTown, the organization works collaboratively to share best practices, host events focused on addressing issues and goals that impact southeast Michigan, support business plan development, and leverage funding to grow business in the region. The Business Accelerator Network for Southeast Michigan is supported through a $3 million grant from the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan.

About The New Economy Initiative

The New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan (NEI) is an innovative philanthropic effort to accelerate the transition of metro Detroit to an innovation-based economy that expands opportunity for all. Ten national, regional and local foundations have committed $100 million to this unprecedented eight-year initiative, including the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (Detroit), the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation (Southfield, Michigan), the Ford Foundation (New York), the Hudson-Webber Foundation (Detroit), the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (Battle Creek, Michigan), the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (Miami), The Kresge Foundation (Troy, Michigan), the McGregor Fund (Detroit), the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (Flint, Michigan), and the Skillman Foundation (Detroit). The participating foundations are leading the implementation and governance of the Initiative. The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, which initiated the collaborative, is serving as its administrative home. For more information, please visit .

About Accelerate Michigan

The mission of Accelerate Michigan is to create a distinctive partnership between Business Leaders for Michigan (BLM) and Michigan’s University Research Corridor (URC). By uniting Michigan’s largest businesses and universities together, Accelerate Michigan aims to place Michigan among the “Top Ten” states for accelerating economic transformation and cultivating entrepreneurism based on mutually beneficial values, investments and activities.