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Monday, 30 April 2012 12:20

Chicago-based business accelerator seeks mission-driven small businesses

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GRAND RAPIDS — While West Michigan is host to a number of its own small business accelerators, some out-of-state investors see the region as fertile ground for scooping up a piece of the area’s entrepreneurial climate.

Impact Engine is the Midwest’s first venture accelerator that wants to target for-profit companies with an environmental or social mission behind the business model.

Thania Panopoulos, an advisory team member for Impact Engine, presented the program details to local entrepreneurs and community members at Grand Valley State University. She said an example of the kinds of companies the accelerator supports is an education company with a technology platform that tries to solve issues with high school remediation.

She said companies could come from many different areas including workforce development, public health and agriculture as long as the core of the business is committed to positive environmental or social impact.

The program is 12 weeks long, and companies selected to participate will work out of Chicago for the duration of the initiative.

The accelerator has several benefits including:

  • $20,000 in seed capital
  • An expert network and mentorship
  • Business strategy and development master classes led by entrepreneurs
  • An investor day at the program’s end.

Kevin McCurren, executive director of GVSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which sponsored the accelerator’s visit to Grand Rapids, said the opportunity to access a larger and more progressive investor market is huge. Despite the fact that the accelerator will only accept between 10 and 12 companies nationwide, McCurren said he’d consider it a success if at least one West Michigan company gets in the program.

According to Panopoulos, Grand Rapids is a target city for the program. However, the organization is extending its outreach nationwide and hopes to garner more than 200 applications.

Applications to the program are due in June. The program starts in September.

Read 1855 times Last modified on Friday, 03 August 2012 18:50

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