Lawrence Technological University’s (LTU) Centrepolis Accelerator in Southfield announced that The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation has made a grant of $1 million to further the accelerator’s mission of assisting hardware startups — startups that produce a physical product — and establishing small high-tech manufacturing firms in southeast Michigan.
Specifically, the grant provides capital for the C3 Evergreen Investment Fund, which provides services for and investments in advanced manufacturing, manufacturing technology, Industry 4.0 technologies, cleantech, recycling, and COVID response companies, as well as technological advancement in organization that benefit an aging population and those with disabilities.
“We are both excited and humbled to receive this level of support from the Ralph Wilson Foundation,” says Dan Radomski, executive director of the Centrepolis Accelerator. “The demand for our services has grown significantly. This funding will help support our ability to scale and make direct investments in more Southeast Michigan hardware, physical product clients in commercializing and making their products right here in Michigan.
“The economic impact from this effort cannot be overlooked, as we help our hardware clients grow, we are also sending significant business to the local supply chain that is directly helping with their design, engineering, prototyping, testing and manufacturing.”
The fund takes the form of non-equity, zero-interest investments to southeast Michigan companies. The investment model can include a success fee, that, when the recipient companies get their product to market and develop revenues, a small portion is provided back to Centrepolis to pay it forward to future clients.
“The foundation is thrilled to support Lawrence Tech and the Centrepolis Accelerator as they provide early stage, flexible capital to underserved entrepreneurs and small businesses across the region,” says Jim Boyle, vice president of programs and communications at the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.
“These businesses will design and build products in southeast Michigan now and into the future, which is the goal of this innovative revolving fund, and critical to the region’s equitable economic growth.”
The Centrepolis Accelerator was launched in 2019 by LTU and the city of Southfield to provide funding, mentoring, expertise, and services to hardware startups. In the past two years, it has helped commercialize 17 new products, has 60 more in development scheduled to reach the market in the coming two years, and has more than 300 clients.
The fund was launched through a $1.55 million grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). The Accelerator has also received funding from the New Economy Initiative, the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator, the William Davidson Foundation, and other state and federal agencies.