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MiQuest’s GLEQ business plan competition presents $75,000 in awards to Michigan’s technology entrepreneurs

June 23, 2014

For Immediate Release                      

Contact: Diane Durance


Ypsilanti, Mich., June 17, 2014 – MiQuest hosted the 14th annual GLEQ Business Plan Competition Awards event on Tuesday, June 17, at the Eagle Crest Conference Center in Ypsilanti. The long-running GLEQ Business Plan Competition identifies and awards early stage ventures from across the state that are launching and growing businesses with innovative technologies.

Emerging Company Awards

GLEQ Grand Prize Award of $25,000 in the Emerging Company category was presented to­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ Muhammad Faisal, PhD, CEO of Ann Arbor based Movellus Circuits.  Movellus Circuits offers the first truly all-digital clock generator technology for the semiconductor market. Their clock generators eliminate analog components, and are faster to design, smaller, higher performance, lower power, more flexible, and cheaper to manufacture. A large portion of today’s electronic systems consist of sensing, computer, processing, and communication. With the onset of Internet of Things (IoT) there is a strong demand for miniaturization, lower power consumption, and lower cost. Movellus technology allows its customers to develop more diverse, less expensive, and smaller products.

The Second Place Award of $15,000 was presented to Susan Sprentall, CEO of Wixom based SurClean, Inc.  The SurClean handheld laser system uses proprietary software, patented sensor technology and a proprietary delivery system for laser-based coating removal. The system replaces current coating removal methods (abrasives, media blasting or chemical compounds), which are slower, labor intensive, toxic and expensive.

The top six teams competing for awards in the Emerging Company category pitched their plans to a judging panel of professional investors that included: Terry Cross, founder, Windward Associates, LLC; Dave Gregorka, venture partner, Baird Capital; Ken Kousky, president, BlueWater Angels; and Maria Thompson, entrepreneur-in-residence, Arsenal Venture Partners. Ms. Thompson was a past GLEQ award winner as founder of T/J Technologies. Presentation scores were added to scores on the companies’ written business plans to determine the overall winners. Finalists in addition to the winning companies included, Blaze Medical Devices, LLC; DataSpeaks Health Solutions, Inc.; Monarch Antenna, Inc.; and PHASIQ, Inc.

The Emerging Company awards were presented by Eric Sosenko of Brinks Gilson & Lione.

New Business Idea Awards

In the New Business Idea category, GENOMENON, of Ann Arbor received the First Place Award of $5,000, with Dr. Mark Kiel, CEO, representing the venture. GENOMENON is developing software tools to rapidly and autonomously prioritize data points for medical decision-making to minimize errors in genomic sequence analysis.  Exo Dynamics, of Ann Arbor received the Second Place Award of $2,500, and was represented by Mushir Khwaja, chief commercial officer. Exo Dynamics is dedicated to creating the next generation of spinal orthoses that will improve treatment processes for people afflicted with chronic spinal conditions or injuries. A critical customer segment is the 50% of interventionalist doctors suffering from back problems due to long hours standing while performing procedures.

The New Business Idea awards were presented by Christine Sing, principal, Rehmann.

Innovation Awards

The ninth annual Automation Alley − Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Award in the amount of $12,500 was presented to SurClean, Inc., of Wixom. SurClean has developed a handheld laser system with proprietary software, patented sensor technology and a proprietary delivery system for laser-based coating removal. The system replaces current coating removal methods (abrasives, media blasting or chemical compounds) which are slower, labor intensive, toxic and expensive. The award was presented to Susan Sprentall, CEO, by Tom Kelly, director of entrepreneurship, Automation Alley.

The MSU Bioeconomy Institute − Green Technology Innovation Award in the amount of $5,000 was presented to Ecovia Renewables, LLC, of Ann Arbor. The award was presented to Dr. Jeremy Minty, president, by Bruce J. Adair, vice president of business services, Lakeshore Advantage. Ecovia is addressing the global problem of soil erosion with a proprietary biopolymer mixture for hydro-mulching that features better adhesion, stabilization and fertilizer enhancement than formulations currently on the market. The biopolymers are non-toxic and eco-friendly, and are produced with the company’s patent-pending microbial co-culture fermentation platform using materials sourced in Michigan.

The NextEnergy − Advanced Energy Innovation Award was presented to Optimal Process Technologies, LLC, of Ann Arbor. The award was presented to Dr. Song L. Young, president and CEO, by Dan Radomski, vice president, industry & venture development, NextEnergy. Optimal Process Technologies is developing and commercializing technologies for joining dissimilar materials to enable electrification of vehicles. Their prototype quality monitoring system (QMS) for the joining of lithium-iron cells by ultrasonic welding is being deployed by General Motors. The team is now developing a real-time adaptive control to ensure the quality of every weld and to prevent the occurrence of any defects.

Honor Awards

Fred Pieplow, president, Manna Management, LLC, and a trusted advisor from St. Joseph, was selected as GLEQ Coach of the Year. His teams often express their gratitude for his seasoned advice. He coached two teams in this cycle of the competition, Rockford-based PRESH and Dowagiac-based RNS Packaging. He has been a GLEQ Coach since 2008. The award was presented by Kevin Suboski, EOS Implementer and MiQuest Coach and Mentor Advocate.

Tony Montalbano, one of the four founders of Washington, Michigan-based Spincard, received the Spirit of Entrepreneurship award. The award was presented by past winner, Grace Hsai, who was struck by how active Montalbano has been in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. According to Hsai, “I have seen him pitch at A2 New Tech in Ann Arbor and teach budding entrepreneurs at Grand Circus down in Detroit. Heck, I was surprised when I saw him at the Heading for the Big Leagues event at the Dow Diamond in Midland. He’s been everywhere this year.” The award is given to the entrepreneur in the GLEQ Business Plan Competition that exhibits outstanding integrity, commitment, passion, compassion and coachability. Montalbano was coached in this cycle of the competition by Holly Bielawa, Agile Growth Strategies, Ann Arbor.

The GLEQ awards event was held at the Eagle Crest Conference Center in Ypsilanti. In addition to the awards, the event included a keynote presentation by Jake Sigal, founder and CEO of Tome Inc., and former CEO of Livio, which was acquired by Ford Motor Company in 2013, and presentations by the Top 20 participants in the GLEQ Business Plan Competition. Each of the top 20 participants received complimentary admission to Michigan Growth Capital Symposium.

The presenting companies and their representatives included:

AQUAterra System, West Bloomfield, Edward Kim, executive advisor

ArborWind, LLC, Ann Arbor, Dilip Nigam, president, CEO and CTO

Blaze Medical Devices, LLC, Ann Arbor, Michael Tarasev, PhD, COO

Clean Energy Innovations (dba LogiCoul Solutions), Bloomfield, David Stout, executive vice president, business development

DataSpeaks Health Solutions, Inc., West Bloomfield, Dennis Nash, co-founder and CEO

Exo Dynamics, Ann Arbor, Mushir Khwaja, chief commercial officer

Functional Fluidics, Grosse Pointe Park, Patrick Hines, PhD/MD, founder

GENOMENON, Ann Arbor, Mark Kiel, MD, CEO

Micro-LAM Technologies, LLC, Battle Creek, Deepak Ravindra, PhD, co-founder, CTO and interim CEO

Monarch Antenna, Inc., Ann Arbor, Randall Dence, CEO

Movellus Circuits, Ann Arbor, Muhammad Faisal, PhD, CEO

New Aegis Corporation, Ann Arbor, Paul Bruno, co-founder

PHASIQ, Inc., Plymouth, Sachin Shah, MD, vice president, commercial development

Renditus, Wolverine Lake, Chad Forester, founder

Shock EngineWorks, Inc., East Lansing, Pablo Parraga-Ramirez, PhD, founder

SkySpecs, LLC, Ann Arbor, Danny Ellis, CEO

SurClean, Inc., Wixom, Susan Sprentall, CEO, Detroit, Natalia Petraszczuk, co-founder

Warmilu, LLC, Ann Arbor, Grace Hsia, CEO

Wave Aircraft, Inc., West Bloomfield, Perry DiClemente, founder and CEO

About MiQuest

MiQuest is a Lansing-based non-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization accelerating the formation of high-growth companies in Michigan. Its mission is to Ignite, Unleash and Promote a Culture of Entrepreneurship. MiQuest manages several programs, including the GLEQ Business Plan Competition, now in its fourteenth year of continuous operation. The GLEQ competition leverages a roster of volunteer business and investment experts to provide training, coaching and mentoring. Entrepreneurs in the business plan competition receive written critiques from members of the investor community. The GLEQ Business Plan Competition is funded by Michigan Economic Development Corporation through an Entrepreneurial Support Services grant. MiQuest was formed through the merger of Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest and the Small Business Foundation of Michigan.

MiQuest is launching a new format for the 2015 GLEQ Business Competition and will be announcing the new program guidelines and awards when registration opens later this summer. The competition finalists will be recognized at ACE’15 in January 2015.

Additional information is available at or by calling Diane Durance, president, at 734-255-3183.


Top sponsors for the GLEQ Business Plan Competition and the awards event included Automation Alley, Biggby Coffee, Brinks Gilson & Lione, Capitol National Bank, KeyBank, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, MSU Bioeconomy Institute, New Economy Initiative, NextEnergy, OnLine Tech, Rehmann, and Traction.

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