Our Sponsors


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 www.neweconomyinitiative.org.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s sales and marketing arm and lead agency for business, talent and jobs, tourism and economic growth. We offer a number of business assistance services and capital programs for business attraction and acceleration, economic gardening, entrepreneurship, strategic partnerships, talent enhancement and urban development. Discover Pure Michigan at www.MichiganAdvantage.org and www.Michigan.org.

Opportunity Detroit

Our mission is to showcase Detroit’s exciting present and promising future by creating an urban environment that attracts businesses, residents and visitors while promoting Detroit in a positive light inside and outside the city.


Ann Arbor SPARK, a non-profit organization, is the driving force in establishing the Ann Arbor region as a destination for business expansion, retention, and location by identifying and meeting the needs of business at every stage, from startups to large organizations. Ann Arbor SPARK represents all communities in the Washtenaw County. Ann Arbor SPARK collaborates with business, academic, government, and community investor partners including the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Washtenaw Community College, Michigan Works!/ETCS, Washtenaw County, the City of Ann Arbor, the Bank of Ann Arbor and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. For more information, please visit www.annarborusa.org.

Automation Alley

Automation Alley Automation Alley is a technology business association and business accelerator dedicated to growing the economy of Southeast Michigan and enhancing the region’s reputation around the world. Automation Alley offers talent and business development programs and services to tech-focused businesses of all sizes — from startups to large corporations — to help them grow and prosper. Since its founding in 1999, Automation Alley’s membership has grown to include nearly 1,000 businesses, educational institutions, government entities and nonprofit organizations from the city of Detroit and the surrounding eight-county region. Automation Alley provides a variety of exclusive benefits to its members to help them succeed, including networking opportunities, meeting space and public relations tools. Automation Alley also serves the general business community in four key areas: entrepreneurial services, talent development, international business services, product lifecycle management, and defense and manufacturing.


Founded in 2002 as 501©(3) nonprofit organization, NextEnergy is one of the nation’s leading accelerators of advanced energy technologies, businesses and industries. NextEnergy drives technology demonstration and commercialization; delivers industry and venture development services; and provides an authoritative voice in the public sector. Since its inception, NextEnergy has helped attract more than $1.4 billion of new investment in the state of Michigan, including programs in excess of $160 million in which NextEnergy has directly participated.  For more information, visit nextenergy.org.

Invest Michigan

Invest Michigan is a nonprofit corporation which manages the $9 million Michigan Pre-Seed Fund 2.0 under a contract with the Michigan Strategic Fund. $1 million is dedicated to a “University Commercialization Fund” to help universities transfer technology to the marketplace. Investments are made to turn innovative early stage Michigan tech companies into viable businesses, which expand and strengthen our state’s economy. We partner with other investors to co-invest jointly in early stage companies and often will participate with a company through several rounds of financing.Investments will be made only within the State of Michigan. We work with Michigan entrepreneurs to build high-tech sustainable enterprises:
• by assisting technology start-ups connect to resources
• by providing capital to start-ups
• by actively engaging with entrepreneurs to help them grow their businesses
The Fund invests in Michigan companies in the following areas: advanced automotive, manufacturing and materials, agricultural technology, alternative energy, homeland security and defense, information technology, life sciences and other innovative technology areas. Michigan Pre-Seed Fund 2.0: Offering financing, strategic guidance and introductions to valuable partners to help promising Michigan early stage tech-based companies.

Invest Detroit

Invest Detroit is a catalyst for economic growth managing a variety of targeted funds. We finance and support business development, commercial real estate, entrepreneurs, and high-tech companies in Detroit and the region. We collaborate with the public, private, and philanthropic sectors to create jobs, density, sustainability, and opportunity for underserved communities and markets.

MAComb-OU Incubator

Macomb-OU INCubator, located in the heart of Macomb County’s defense corridor and the Technology Advancement SmartZoneSM of Sterling Heights, provides business support, shared resources, and capital acquisition assistance to area emerging companies, in an effort to bolster business development and job creation in our region. This incubation initiative is a partnership between the City of Sterling Heights, Macomb County, Oakland University and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. For more information, visit www.oakland.edu/macombouinc.

Techtown Detroit

TechTown works to reignite Detroit’s entrepreneurial culture by fueling business growth, job creation and the revitalization of Midtown and beyond. Through its partners and programs, the nonprofit business incubator and accelerator; connects small businesses to the customers, talent, capital and location necessary to build a thriving enterprise in Southeast Michigan. Its entrepreneurs also gain unique access to research, academic and technology assets through TechTown’s partnership with Wayne State University.

Growth Capital Network

The Growth Capital Network (GCN) manages and measures programs for the innovation, economic development and philanthropic community. GCN manages top tier innovation and entrepreneurship programs such as Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition (AMIC) and the Midwest Green Technology Entrepreneur Academy (MI-GTEA). GCN also oversees and helps manage researcher education for Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization program (M-TRAC). We create connections to capital sources for businesses as well as program strategy for development and technical assistance, while providing analytical and evaluative services to measure the impact of entrepreneurial and innovation programs for the foundation and non-profit community. This includes sustainability analysis and planning, quantitative and qualitative evaluation, survey design, market research and due diligence. We also deliver evaluation frameworks that include metric identification, economic and social impact assessment, as well as broad economic and social impact assessment.


Brooks Kushman

Brooks Kushman P.C. is a nationally recognized intellectual property (IP) and technology law firm with offices in Michigan and California. Brooks Kushman represents clients of all sizes, ranging from some of the world’s largest corporations to small start-ups, and provides legal counsel on patent prosecution, IP litigation, trademarks, trade secrets, open source compliance, technical design consulting and e-discovery. With more than 80 highly specialized, IP-focused legal professionals, Brooks Kushman’s breadth of technical expertise ensures that clients are matched with a legal professional who has the background and expertise of their unique industry. For more information, please visit: www.brookskushman.com

Creative Co.

Creative Co. is a collaborative membership network of interdisciplinary designers and agencies founded to fulfill the creative needs of Michigan’s business community. Initiated by the Detroit Creative Corridor Center in 2015, Creative Co. operates as a design trade association providing industry-vetted members with exclusive business development opportunities, educational workshops, community events, and mentor engagement. For more information, visit www.creativeco.design.

Michigan Venture Capital Association

The Michigan Venture Capital Association is a catalyst for building a strong, diverse, and entrepreneurial Michigan business ecosystem. MVCA represents venture capitalists, angel investors, industry service providers, economic development organization, and high-education institutions – all working together to create new business opportunities and foster Michigan’s growing role as a center of innovation, entrepreneurship, and company creation. To that end, MVCA facilitates communication, builds relationships, promotes advocacy, and sponsors program and other events that support the interests of its members – and everyone else who lives, works, or invests in Michigan.


Meijer is a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer that operates 222 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin. As a pioneer of the “one-stop shopping” concept, Meijer stores have evolved through the years to include expanded fresh produce and meat departments, as well as pharmacies, comprehensive apparel departments, garden centers and electronic offerings. For additional information on Meijer, please visit www.meijer.com.

Shell Oil Company

Royal Dutch Shell plc is incorporated in England and Wales, has its headquarters in The Hague and is listed on the London, Amsterdam, and New York stock exchanges. Shell companies have operations in more than 70 countries and territories with businesses including oil and gas exploration and production; production and marketing of liquefied natural gas and gas to liquids; manufacturing, marketing and shipping of oil products and chemicals and renewable energy projects. For further information, visit http://www.shell.com/
Shell Eco-marathon is a visible demonstration of Shell’s commitment to help the world meet its growing energy needs in a responsible way by working together with students, partners and other stakeholders. For more than 30 years, this global program has challenged high school and college student teams to design, build and test the most energy-efficient vehicles. Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2016 will take place April 22nd-24th on the streets of Downtown Detroit and is free and open to the public. Visit http://www.shellecomarathon.us/ to learn more about this free, family-friendly weekend at Cobo Center.

Varnum Law

For more than 120 years, clients have trusted Varnum for excellence, innovation and superior results in the delivery of legal services. Over the years, as the needs of our clients have become more complex, we have kept pace by constantly expanding our areas of practice, our understanding of evolving trends and issues, and our ability to harness technology effectively. Today, with over 150 lawyers practicing in five offices, Varnum is firmly established as one of the region’s premier law firms. A full service-provider of legal counsel, Varnum has a strong core of expertise. Varnum clients represent a diverse range of business and legal interests: manufacturers, financial institutions, health care providers, professional groups, municipalities, colleges and universities, school districts, developers, publishers, retailers, governmental units, transportation, trade associations, charitable organizations, and utilities. Our team approach to client service provides an outstanding model for maintaining the close personal relationship that traditionally exists between lawyer and client, while ensuring the clients also have available to them the full resources of the firm. One of our lawyers will assume primary responsibility for the client relationship, and he or she will be assisted as needed by other lawyers within the firm who can offer their expertise on a particular matter.


If you ever fly on company business, make sure you’re taking advantage of every cost-saving opportunity. Our partner, Delta Air Lines®, offers SkyBonus®, a business rewards program that helps small and medium-sized companies earn points for every dollar they spend on eligible flights. Points can be redeemed for rewards like SkyClub® passes, drinks, upgrades and even award tickets. And don’t worry, travelers will still earn their personal SkyMiles® even as they help the company earn SkyBonus points, making this a no-brainer. Enrolling is free at www.delta.com/skybonus.

Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP

At Taft, we work as one team, driven and committed to helping you succeed. Our attorneys understand that innovative, value-creating solutions help our clients reach their goals. Our collaborative approach, advanced technological resources and depth of services can transform what you expect from your legal team. With more than 400 attorneys, Taft has offices in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; Covington, Kentucky; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Phoenix, Arizona, and maintains a presence in Florida. The firm practices across a wide range of industries, in virtually every area of law, including: Business & Finance Business Restructuring, Bankruptcy and Creditor Rights Environmental Health & Life Sciences Intellectual Property Labor & Employment Litigation Private Client Real Estate Tax With a proven track record of experience since 1885, Taft offers breadth and depth of legal services coupled with a trusted business perspective to help our clients reach their goals.

Spartan Innovations

Spartan Innovations provides the educational and financial support necessary to turn MSU research technologies into successful Michigan businesses – and spur entrepreneurship in the Michigan economy. Spartan Innovations is co-located with and complements the work being done now by MSU Technologies, the university’s technology transfer office organized in 2007, and Business-CONNECT, created in 2009 as MSU’s portal for engagement with the business community. All three units are part of the MSU Innovation Center. The MSU Foundation, which serves as fiduciary and trustee for MSU’s charitable annuities, trusts, and gifts of property, provides major funding for the initiative.


Bank of America

Bank of America established roots in Detroit over 100 years ago. We’re Michiganders and Detroiters, serving our community through leadership and expertise to improve the financial lives of our customers, clients and communities one connection at a time. We aim to make banking and investing easier; deliver better money habits and build thriving communities. Our commitment for this renaissance city includes: training and providing jobs for metro Detroit’s youth; supporting home owners with 0% Interest Home Repair Loans; ensuring strengthened neighborhood economies and small business support and helping to provide the continuum of care for our neighbors. Bank of America is a proud local, engaged and connected partner in the Motor City.

Bank of Ann Arbor

Bank of Ann Arbor's Technology Industry Group provides a full range of banking and investment management products to emerging and later-stage technology and life sciences companies, venture capital firms, angel investors and entrepreneurs. We are working to build Michigan's 21st century economy by providing banking products and services to help innovation-based businesses succeed and by partnering with like-minded individuals, businesses, organizations, and universities.

Start Garden

Start Garden is an unconventional venture capital fund and startup community. which brings together financial, intellectual and social capital to entrepreneurs by connecting them to resources critical to their growth-stage. Start Garden is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. More at www.startgarden.com.


A driving force in the digital economy, The MLive Media Group is an audience-first venture encompassing content, sales, and marketing professionals. While most of our team is Michigan-based, our colleagues at Advance Local and Advance Digital, winner of the 2015 Microsoft Digital Marketing Partner of the year for the third year in a row, have our backs. Add to that, The MLive Media Group is also a Google Adwords Premier SMB Partner; you get the idea, we know digital marketing. Our goal is to help you reach your customer anywhere they are, on any device they use, any time they are using it, and deliver the perfect digital marketing message just for them – exactly when they need it.

Bull Run Press

Bull Run Press, Inc is a full-service print and marketing materials provider that has been serving the U.S.A. since February 2012. Our services for non-profit organizations and for-profit companies include graphic design development or re-design, as well as printed promotional materials such as business cards, signage and introduction kits. We also offer mailing services, event invitations, custom printed window/vehicle decals and much more. For more information about our services, please visit our website at www.bullruninc.com.


PayAnywhere Mobile allows you to accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and PayPal cards all at the same low rate, wherever and whenever you're doing business. The free credit card reader transforms your Apple or Android smartphone or tablet into a mobile credit card reader. Offering ease of use, the most robust mobile payments processing app, and live customer support, PayAnywhere will take your business where it needs to go.

Atwater Brewery

Located in Detroit’s historic Rivertown district, and housed in a 1919 factory warehouse, Atwater Brewery was founded in March of 1997 with the purpose of carrying on the rich history of breweries in Detroit. Our brewing process, however, is over 200 years old.


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