LEAP’s Tech Startup Gateway Program Renewed as 3 Local Startups Named on Venture Capital (VC) Hotlist

With approval from the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) Board Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) will receive $100,000 in Gateway Representative support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) for the seventh consecutive year. This high-tech startup program has been vital in strengthening LEAP’s and the region’s capacity to help lead and evolve the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem into a top 25 startup community.

The Lansing region grew by 5% in 25 critical high-tech occupations from 2015-2020 and projects an additional 4% growth from 2020-2025, outpacing the national average. High-tech jobs continue to grow in number and wage levels in various industries in the Lansing region.

Gateway resources provide a critical high-tech startup program that helps local ideas evolve into growing businesses. Peptinovo Biopharma is a great example. “Creating an early-stage biotech company is a huge chasm to cross, even when you have a promising and novel technology,” said Dr. Ren Homan, Ph.D., co-founder of Peptinovo Biopharma, a LEAP client. “We think Peptinovo’s drug delivery technology will make chemotherapy more effective and tolerable. The BAF support we received through LEAP was a great boost in helping us move forward and spur interest from the investors needed to reach our goal of improving cancer patients’ outcomes.”

Joe Carr, LEAP’s vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation, believes the Gateway program enables LEAP to effectively support the Lansing region’s high-tech entrepreneurs stating, “Without adequate investment and support, many entrepreneurs would not see their ideas take off. The services and personalized guidance LEAP can provide as a result of the Gateway program is vital to the startup process.”

With this grant, LEAP’s Tech Startup Gateway Program will continue to connect high-tech startups with state resources, diversify Michigan’s economy, and bring innovations to the regional community. LEAP’s Tech Startup Gateway Program is framed around regional management of the MEDC’s Business Accelerator Fund (BAF) support, managing the Lansing Regional SmartZone and close relationships with Michigan State University (MSU) Foundation’s Red Cedar Ventures, Spartan Innovations and the Regional Innovation Network Group (RING), a group led by LEAP comprised of over 20 entrepreneurial support organizations (ESO) in the Lansing region.

“LEAP and the Lansing Regional SmartZone are working to create a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem to support high-tech startup companies and job creation. This grant and continued support from the MEDC will help as we look to grow and develop Lansing’s entrepreneurial community,” said Luke Hackney, chair of the Lansing Regional SmartZone.

With the Gateway designation, LEAP saw a more than 22.5% increase in BAF support. Additionally, LEAP’s clients secured increased investment with an additional $39 million in follow-on funding over the seven years LEAP has received the Gateway designation.

The Gateway program’s impact on empowering LEAP to help high-tech companies grow is evident most recently with three of LEAP’s industry game-changing BAF clients landing on Renaissance VC Fund’s Hotlist, an elite semi-annual ranking of Michigan’s most promising early-stage high-tech startups:

  • Biopharma created a patented drug-delivery platform, Peptide-Amphiphile Lipid Micelle (PALM), to reduce or eliminate severe side effects experienced by chemotherapy patients by redirecting higher doses of chemotherapy drugs directly into tumors while protecting healthy tissues.
  • Great Lakes Crystal Technologies, a graduate of MSU’s VanCamp Incubator, created a domestic, commercial source of ultra-high-performance diamond materials, which can be used in particle acceleration technology and other high-tech scientific applications.
  • ARUtility is an MSU Conquer Accelerator program graduate and a current Plug and Play Ventures accelerator program member. ARUtility is an augmented reality utility location application that visualizes above and below ground utilities in real-time to reduce damage, make excavation more cost-effective, assist users with asset management and help engineers identify potential conflicts before they happen.


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About LEAP
The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) is a coalition of area leaders partnering to build a stronger community for all — working every day to grow, retain and attract business to the Lansing, Michigan, region.