Accelerate Michigan announces new format, location for ninth annual pitch competition

The ninth annual Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition will feature a new venue and a format change designed to provide greater value to all participants.


The statewide pitch competition awards $1 million in cash and prizes, including a $500,000 grand prize. Companies must register for the competition by Aug. 15 and submit their application packets by the end of August.


The competition, a program of Invest Detroit’s ID Ventures, allows startups to network, show off their innovations, and gain the attention of investors. Many Ann Arbor-area startups have won prizes over the years, including Ann Arbor-based Mi Padrino picking up the first runner-up prize of $100,000 in 2017.


This year, a new format on the day of the final competition will allow more opportunity for entrepreneurs to have one-on-one meetings with mentors, investors, and other entrepreneurs. That will help them brainstorm and refine their business plans, according to Chris Rizik, CEO of Renaissance Venture Capital Fund and Invest Detroit board member.


"Overall, this year the shift in focus is to be less like Shark Tank and more founder-focused," Rizik says. "We're providing more value to all participants because, whether or not they win any money, they should come out with more relationships and more good ideas for their business."


Semi-finalists will be announced Oct. 3, and those companies will get a chance to meet with mentors and other entrepreneurs on the afternoon of Nov. 13. Those meetings will be followed by a dinner and a chance for the audience to hear the finalists' presentations at the Lexus Velodrome, 601 Mack Ave. in Detroit. After dinner, winners will be announced and prizes awarded.


On that final evening, Rizik says, judges will be looking for ideas that are "unique and scalable, and that are solving a real problem in the world, led by teams that appear to have the ability to execute that vision."


Those interested in attending the final night of the competition can find more information through the Accelerate Michigan website.


Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at


Photo courtesy of Accelerate Michigan.