Michigan Tech Researchers' Companies Win Accelerate Michigan Competition

Accelerate Michigan
Accelerate Michigan
Accelerate Michigan winners Brad King and Steve Tokarz accept symbolic checks for their winnings.

Startup companies founded by Michigan Technological University professors brought home more than half a million dollars from the 2017 Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition.

Orbion Space Technology, a firm founded by Professor L. Brad King, took top prize in the competition in Detroit on Nov. 16.   Orbion won $500,000 in cash and an additional $39,000 in in-kind services.  King is the Ron and Elaine Starr Professor in Space Systems in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

“Orbion is honored to be chosen from the dozens of exciting new companies that participated in the competition,” King said.  “Our biggest challenge right now as a space start-up is getting our product to market quickly.  The award will accelerate our product development and help Orbion continue on our upward trajectory.”

StabiLux Biosciences (NovoLux), a firm founded to market technology developed by Yoke Khin Yap, won the competition’s “Up and Comer Award,” receiving more than $30,000 in cash and services.  Yap is a professor of physics at Michigan Tech. NovoLux is a registered trademark of StabiLux Biosciences for the commercialization of their high-brightness dyes for multi-color flow cytometry. 

"We are glad to be recognized,” said Yap. “It goes a long way to build our technical and business track record.“ He thanked Steve Tokarz, CEO of StabiLux Biosciences, and Jonathan Leinonen from Tech’s School of Business and Economics for taking the lead on the Accelerate Michigan competition. “Special thanks to Jim Baker and his Michigan Tech team who support our venture with help from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)," Yap added.  

“This is an amazing accomplishment for both companies,” said Jim Baker, executive director of innovation and industry engagement at Michigan Tech. “Their wins, as well as the performance of all Michigan Tech-affiliated participants, clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of the rich resource network for innovation that we have built on campus and in the community.”

Makerhub,  a student-developed web app that connects individuals who own 3-D printers with others who need 3-D printed parts, made the finals in the student division of the innovation competition.

Three Michigan Tech-related startups were chosen as semi-finalists in the annual Accelerate Michigan competition this year.  Three student teams from Tech were also named semi-finalists in Student Accelerate, the competition’s student division   

Each year, the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition showcases startup innovation throughout Michigan and provides startups with the exposure, funding and mentorship they need. Since the competition's inception, participating companies have generated more than 1,000 jobs in Michigan and raised more than $550 million in capital.

Accelerate Michigan attracts more than 500 attendees from across the region and awards more than $1,000,000 in cash & in-kind prizes.   

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.