[2012 Award Winners; Photo Courtesy of Accelerate Michigan]

By Kathy Barks Hoffman

An international business competition designed to bring together entrepreneurial companies with local, national and international investors and the chance to win a $500,000 prize is nearing the closing date for applications.

The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition is open to entrepreneurs worldwide who are willing to establish a business in Michigan. The competition targets entrepreneurs who are looking for mid- to late-seed investment.

The closing date for company applications is Aug. 14. Winners will be announced during the Nov. 12-14 Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition event in Detroit where judges will evaluate PowerPoint presentations and semifinalists will give five-minute pitches for their companies. Besides the $500,000 grand prize, the first runner-up will win $100,000 and the second runner-up $50.000. In addition, $25,000 prizes will go to the best applicant in each of eight sectors.

A similar competition for undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in at least two classes at a Michigan university or college this fall offers a $25,000 grand prize, with the first runner-up winning $15,000 and the second runner-up winning $10,000. The closing date for student applications is Sept. 26.

The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition is supported by a large number of business and economic development groups, including Business Leaders for Michigan, composed of the leaders of the state’s largest businesses and universities, and the University Research Corridor, an alliance of Michigan’s three leading research institutions: Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University.

Last year, 60 venture capitalists from 51 firms judged the competition, giving applicants access to a broad network of potential investors and constructive feedback on their business plans and innovations.

“This kind of program is on par with anything that is going on anywhere else in the world,” says Michael Finney, president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

More information about the competition can be found atwww.acceleratemichigan.org.