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LEAP Business Accelerator Fund (BAF) Program for Lansing Region Celebrates a Strong Year for High-Tech Startups

Downtown Lansing
Posted at 9:24 AM, Dec 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-08 09:24:28-05

LANSING, Mich. — The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) and its partners at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and Michigan Capital Region Small Business Development Center (MI-SBDC) are proud to announce a strong summer for Lansing region BAF recipients.

The BAF program is administered by the MI-SBDC in partnership with MEDC and is traditionally available to participating business accelerators, such as LEAP, in Michigan’s statewide SmartZone network to help high-tech companies purchase specialized services that are not otherwise available to them through accelerators.

For the past several years, LEAP has led the statewide SmartZone network in the number of BAF approvals and total amount distributed through the program, with 2020 being no exception.

In 2020, BAF companies reported adding 12 new full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs with an average salary of more than $43,000. The companies were awarded $782,000 in federal research funds, more than $7 million in follow-on investment, $2 million in new sales, 8 patents and 6 newly-commercialized products.

“Growth and progress in a year with this much uncertainty is a huge win,” said Luke Hackney, chair of the Lansing Regional SmartZone. “We look forward to seeing what comes next with these companies, and what they can continue to do for the Greater Lansing area.”

In April, the BAF program expanded funding access and eligibility in response to COVID-19 to support small, non-tech companies making personal protection equipment (PPE) or medical supplies, high-tech companies whose product or service is directly fighting COVID-19 and existing accelerator clients whose survival is directly threatened by the pandemic.

“Expanding who qualifies for the BAF was a critical step to prepare our region’s economy to address the long-term effects of COVID-19 and subsequent waves of infection, which we are beginning to experience now,” said Joe Carr, vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation at LEAP and gateway representative for the Lansing Regional SmartZone. “While this pivot to address our current crisis was essential, LEAP was still able to continue its regular BAF work and advance promising startups addressing other crucial industry gaps.”

An example of this is Peptinovo Biopharma, which received in April a $45,870 BAF award to fund laboratory testing, legal services and website development for its patented drug delivery platform that aims to reduce the most serious side effects threatening outcomes for world-leading chemotherapy drugs.

In September, previous BAF recipient Great Lakes Crystal Technologies signed a nonbinding letter of intent to move into a Lansing-area manufacturing facility following graduation from Michigan State University’s (MSU) VanCamp Incubator. The company was launched in August 2019 to create a domestic commercial source of ultra-high-performance diamond materials, which can be used in particle acceleration technology and other high-tech scientific applications.

Also in September, ARUtility, another previous BAF recipient, was accepted into Plug and Play Ventures’ accelerator program focused on seed- and early-stage funding. Typically, the venture capital firm invests $150,000 in winning companies at its pitch events in addition to the 10-week accelerator program. The company has also applied for a patent on its technology, whose app pulls information from a utility company’s geographic information system and other industry databases.

“The continued success of companies like Great Lakes Crystal Technologies and ARUtility is a testament to the impact of BAF awards in helping companies grow,” Carr added. “These funds help companies secure services such as intellectual property assistance and marketing strategy development, which are critical components in taking a great idea from concept to market.”

Full information including eligibility details, FAQ and an application are available at []

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