East Lansing’s Conquer Accelerator has announced its program launch in Grand Rapids. The 10-week accelerator plans on starting the program on Sept. 14. This is the first time it will expand outside of East Lansing.
“We started the program in 2016 with just a handful of Michigan State University students, but over the last five years it became apparent our program was valuable to all types of entrepreneurs, not just our direct network,” says Thomas Stewart, program manager of the accelerator. “Given MSU’s ties to the area, Grand Rapids is a natural fit for our first expansion of the program.”
Started as a partnership with its parent organization the Michigan State University Foundation and the foundation’s subsidiaries Spartan Innovations, Red Cedar Ventures, and University Corporate Research Park, the program supports rising startups by providing $20,000 in funding, access to more than 40 mentors, access to follow-on funding, and other resources.
The Grand Rapids SmartZone Local Development Finance Authority and the Conquer Accelerator team will collaborate on the new program.
“We are pleased to partner with the MSU Foundation and its subsidiaries to bring Conquer Accelerator to Grand Rapids,” says Jeremiah Gracia, economic development director at the city of Grand Rapids and staff liaison to the Grand Rapids LDFA. “This program aligns with the SmartZone’s development plan objectives to support high-tech startups through incubation and accelerator programs. Bringing a program with a proven record of success along with early stage funding is a great opportunity for our community.”
The accelerator will provide startups in Grand Rapids with programming and focus on tailored, goal-driven benchmarks while working with mentors on fundraising, technology, and longevity.
“Grand Rapids has a strong manufacturing backbone yet has a wide diversity of industries from health care and furniture to craft beers and automotive glass,” says Frank Urban, director of the accelerator. “This has made the area a hub for creative ideas and entrepreneurs willing to take the risk of launching new companies. We are excited that the Conquer Accelerator program can help these entrepreneurs realize their dreams, stimulate the local economy, and create high-tech jobs.”
Conquer Accelerator’s fifth East Lansing cohort started virtually on June 1. It has invested more than $500,000 into its startups. More information and applications for the Grand Rapids accelerator are available here and open until July 20. The program will run through Nov. 20.