Ten small businesses were honored by the Delaware Division of Small Business as winners of the seventh round of the Encouraging Development, Growth, and Expansion (EDGE) competition.
Winners included a company planning to develop residential electric vehicle chargers, one developing an improved hand/arm prosthetic that’s easier to use, one developing an adapted mobility device for getting into bed, and one looking to purchase computers and streaming equipment for its e-sports events and camps.
The event was held at Delaware Dynamix in Harbeson. Delaware Dynamix is one of the EDGE award recipients in the latest round.
“Building a strong economy starts with supporting our small business community,” said Gov. John Carney. “The EDGE grant program provides young businesses with much-needed capital assistance that they may not have access to otherwise. I’m excited to see how this round of EDGE grant recipients use this funding to grow their business.”
“Helping small businesses succeed in Delaware is so important to maintaining a healthy economy,” said Deputy Secretary of State Kristopher Knight. “With the assistance of the EDGE grants, the state is fostering innovation by giving them a much-needed financial boost to make their dreams become a reality.”
Businesses under seven years old and with no more than ten full-time employees (or full-time equivalents) can apply for an EDGE grant.
The grants are awarded through a competitive selection process. After an internal review, 16 finalists are selected to pitch their proposals to an outside expert panel of judges. Ten companies are selected for awards. Five STEM-based companies will each receive up to $100,000 for eligible expenses, while five entrepreneur-class (non-STEM) businesses will each receive up to $50,000.
“The EDGE competition allows our division to do what it was created to do – help small businesses start and grow,” said Division of Small Business Director Regina Mitchell. “The quality of the fall applications was so strong that it made it more challenging to select the finalists. Each EDGE round continues to show progress in terms of the quality of submissions.”
The first EDGE Grant Competition for 2024 began accepting applications on Feb. 1. Applications will continue to be accepted until Friday, March 1, at 4:30 p.m. Those interested can visit de.gov/edge for access to the application and other resources.
EDGE is a matching grant program. The Division of Small Business matches a winning business’s investment on a 3-to-1 basis. The business can spend EDGE grant funds on expenses that help improve the company’s long-term chances of success, such as a marketing campaign to help acquire more customers or purchasing a needed piece of equipment.
A total of $5.6 million has been awarded to 90 Delaware small businesses since EDGE was first launched in 2019 in industries ranging from wearable medical devices to farming to restaurants.
This is the eighth round of funding for the program. Approximately 115 businesses applied for funding in September. Sixteen finalists gave public presentations in November.
EDGE Grant Recipients
Marin’s Med (Georgetown)
Marins Med is a pioneering prosthetics innovations company, distinguished by their woman-owned status and their Chief Technical Officer (CTO), an amputee and accomplished engineer. Marins Med’s goal with EDGE grant funding is to move through the final stages of research and development prototyping through final design and manufacturing to ensure the innovative ProHensor reaches those with limb loss. Funding will be used to purchase manufacturing equipment and for marketing assistance.
Omni Potential Energy Partners (Wilmington)
OmniPotential Energy Partners will use the funding to build a proof-of-concept pilot program of curbside, residential electric vehicle (EV) chargers and install them on Delaware properties. They will use it to finish their supply chain, identify final business partners, solicit seed customers, and tool up to build and deploy a pilot program of approximately 10 Curbstar devices in the state of Delaware over 12 months. Curbside residential EV chargers are a potential solution to EV owners who live in multi-family units with street or lot parking only.
ACE Running LLC (doing business as, “RunDNA”) brings running gait analysis to all levels of runner. Their service leverages innovative camera and software technologies at a competitive price point to provide real-time analysis of running gait. This powerful tool is used by running professionals worldwide to effectively modify a runner’s form to prevent injury and optimize performance. RunDNA’s flagship product is their Helix 3D running gait analysis device. The company’s EDGE award will allow them to expand their motion capture capabilities to walking gait. Funding will be used for purchasing equipment and software licenses and covering research and development staff costs.
Sindri Materials Corp. (Wilmington)
Sindri Materials is a manufacturer and product development company dedicated to delivering graphene (carbon) materials and products to market. Sindri can produce graphene, which is a completely continuous, large-area sheet that yields electrical performance. With the EDGE grant, Sindri will develop a high-capacity graphene manufacturing system. Its product can accelerate drug and vaccine development by optimizing the speed and resolution of structural biologists’ image macromolecules using a groundbreaking new method called cryogenic electron microscopy (the “cryo-em” market). The graphene grids essentially hold the macromolecules in place for imaging.
Studio Charter has begun making virtual studios that eliminate the need for costly video productions. These studios can be installed in any 10×15 or larger room at a customer’s home or office. They are permanent studio installations with true cinema cameras that can be run remotely, without a crew, for simple, repeatable genres like podcasts and testimonials. The studios allow the recording of cinematic medium-closeups in any location, real or imagined. The goal of Studio Charter is to make video production accessible to anyone. Nonprofits, schools, and government will all finally be able to produce video at a high level and volume. EDGE funding will be used for staff, design, prototyping, and materials costs.
Baybird Orthodontics (Smyrna)
Baybird Orthodontics is a minority women-owned business located in Smyrna run by Dr. Sita Patel. The clinic offers a range of orthodontic treatments, including orthodontic appliances, traditional braces, and clear aligners. However, the one service they currently do not provide is 3D printed braces in house. The EDGE grant funding will be used to purchase a 3D printing system to allow them to produce clear aligners on-site, reducing the cost of orthodontic care for their customers. Funds will also be used to support the aligner machine by providing additional equipment, supplies, and a computer. Marketing and advertising expenses are also included.
Delaware Dynamix (Harbeson)
Delaware Dynamix LLC, which just opened for classes, provides gymnastics instruction and associated activities for children up to age 17 and similar opportunities for adults. A market analysis determined a lack of services like theirs within a convenient drive to the Milton, Lewes, and Rehoboth Beach area, thereby supporting the need for such a facility. The owners boast more than 30 years of experience in gymnastics and youth sports instruction. The business will use EDGE grant funds for equipment and staffing at their 7000 square foot facility for a Little Ninja program aimed at young boys and gymnastics and trampoline programming for special needs children.
Futures First Gaming (Middletown/Wilmington)
Futures First Gaming LLC (FFG), is a STEM.org Accredited Educational Technology, Media, and Esports Entertainment Company. FFG brings together gamers and esports enthusiasts to compete, build community, and engage in educational opportunities to explore career pathways in STEM and relevant esports disciplines. The company is known for its educational technology, media, and esports entertainment accreditation. EDGE Grant funding will be used to acquire cutting-edge gaming and streaming computers, software, and furniture for their esports technology workforce training facility. Funding will also allow the company to organize more workforce development training, esports events, and esports camps.
The Hive on Loockerman (Dover)
The Hive is a minority-owned member-based business and event center that aims to support entrepreneurs and non-profit founders by providing them with the space, equipment, and resources necessary for their business growth and long-term success. The Hive primarily offers hourly space rentals and business-building services, including corporate event planning, marketing, basic brand development, document printing, and secure shredding. EDGE grant funding will be used for facade improvements and construction to meet code requirements and for design, technology, and equipment upgrades to better serve customers.
The LeGrand Company (Hockessin)
Bed Ledge is an adaptive mobility product designed to assist individuals with decreased strength, coordination, or balance in safely lifting their legs into bed. The inability to safely navigate in and out of bed leads to an increased risk for injury and falls and can determine whether someone can safely live in his/her home without assistance. Bed Ledge is the first leave-in-place device that allows the user to move from a sitting position to reclining through incremental movements, thereby decreasing risk of injury and promoting independence. EDGE funding will fund the creation of plastic injection molds and a first production run of 500 units, packaging, and third-party product testing.