DOVER, Del. (July 19, 2023) – The Delaware Division of Small Business recognized 10 small businesses Wednesday as winners of the seventh round of the Encouraging Development, Growth and Expansion (EDGE) competition. Awardees in the latest round of the competition include a drone company in need of an indoor facility, a company developing a new product for next generation silicon solar cells, and owners looking to bring a printing and artist co-working space to Kent County.
Gov. John Carney, Deputy Secretary Kristopher Knight, and Division of Small Business Director Regina Mitchell announced the companies at an event at the Chase Field House in Wilmington, where Hx Innovations, LLC, one of this round’s winners in the STEM category, is located.
“The EDGE grant program helps small businesses get the ‘edge’ they need to expand and innovate by providing much-needed capital assistance that these businesses may not have access to otherwise,” said Governor Carney. “This program has been very successful over the last few years, and we look forward to seeing how these companies and business owners grow their businesses with their grants.”
“Small businesses in Delaware are job creators, innovators, help create economic diversity, and reduce environmental impacts,” said Deputy Secretary of State Kristopher Knight. “The EDGE grants are driven by creativity and innovation—which is reflected by the diverse array of entrepreneurs and STEM-related businesses this round. With the help of the EDGE grants, we are fostering innovation with the necessary capital to help individuals start or expand their small business.”
Businesses that are less than seven years old and employ no more than 10 staff, are eligible to apply for an EDGE grant. The grants are awarded through a competitive selection process. After thorough internal review, 16 finalists pitch their proposals to an outside expert panel of judges. From there 10 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 support small business owners in Delaware who are making significant scientific advancements, creating unique products, and helping strengthen their local communities,” said Division of Small Business Director Regina Mitchell. “We are really pleased with the quality of applications received. For the next round, which will open September 1, we are working to increase the number of STEM applications we get, particularly from Kent and Sussex Counties.”
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 that can increase production capacity.
Including this round, $5.0 million has been awarded to 80 promising Delaware small businesses since EDGE was first launched in 2019 in industries ranging from wearable medical devices to farming to restaurants.
This is the seventh round of funding for the program. Approximately 130 businesses applied for funding in March. Sixteen finalists gave public presentations in May at Delaware State University. From those, the below recipients were selected.
Connect2Co, Inc. (Wilmington)Connect2Co is a cutting-edge business to business startup software tool that will revolutionize the digital workspace for businesses and organizations of all sizes. Its all-in-one platform seamlessly integrates external solutions, eliminating the need for toggling between various applications (ex. Send an email with Gmail, download or share a document from Google Drive/Microsoft OneDrive, close an opportunity with Salesforce). The grant money enables Connect2Co to ramp up its initial operations by funding co-working space at the Mill in Wilmington, along with marketing and speeding the platform’s development timeline.
TX Electromagnetic Materials, LLC (Wilmington)TX ElectroMagnetic Materials LLC is a science-driven company committed to advancing the development of cutting-edge electro and magnetic materials for the solar cell and semiconductor industries. The company is developing a new metallization silver paste specifically designed for future silicon solar cells. The EDGE grant will be used to accelerate product development efforts, expand sales and marketing initiatives, develop product samples, and successfully bring the product to market.
Hx Innovations (Wilmington) Hx Innovations is a biomechanics testing and technology company with a patented assessment technique related to the stability and joint movement of the knee, ankle, and foot. This led them to develop a neuromuscular predictive model for sports teams to help them create safe training regimens and recovery strategies for athletes. Hx Innovations is currently located in the Chase Field House and is using its technology with athletic teams there. The EDGE funding will be used to expand the company’s presence at the Fieldhouse, build a more robust database for its platform, and make the software for real-time injury monitoring, mobile.
Leadership Excellence Academy for Non-Profits (LEAN) (Wilmington) Leadership Excellence Academy for Nonprofits, or LEAN, aims to make a transformational impact in the nonprofit sector. Instead of focusing on short-term gains, LEAN adopts a long-term approach to prioritize creating sustainable solutions. LEAN’s expertise helps nonprofits identify and address gaps in their operations, thereby making them more effective in achieving their goals. EDGE funding will be used to develop innovative app technology to provide a vehicle for encouraging next-gen donors to support nonprofits through giving.
Droneversity, LLC (Wilmington) Droneversity hopes to revolutionize the aviation and STEM industries through comprehensive drone-related workforce development programs. A diverse range of offerings includes drone pilot ground and flight school for federal certification, STEMulation programs for hands-on education, international eSport drone soccer programs, professional development for educators, and consulting services. EDGE funding will help them secure a permanent indoor facility as opposed to temporary site hosts where internet connectivity and weather conditions can be challenging. The company’s planned location is in a downtown development zone.
G & R Industries, LLC (Smyrna)G & R Industries is a start-up manufacturing company, located in Smyrna, that is bringing an innovative construction hanger to the market. The GRO Hanger provides a safer, faster, stronger, and more cost-effective solution for installing piping and fixtures in steel joist construction. EDGE funding will support startup costs including the purchase of assembly equipment, trade show marketing, testing and certifications, and the initial production run of GRO Hangers.
Paraklete Properties & Design, LLC (Viola)Paraklete Properties is a woman-owned and family operated business that seeks to provide locally grown baled pine straw. Established in 2019, Paraklete Properties is committed to Delaware’s growth while preserving its natural beauty. EDGE funding will be used to purchase a proprietary pine straw baler as well as to construct a storage location for the straw. The funds will assist in providing an increased volume of densely packed pine bales, with minimally handled straw as well as provide a protected area for storage before the sale.
The Nest Play Cafe (Middletown) The Nest Play Cafe is an innovative establishment for parents to take their young children, to explore a fun, exciting play area, while they relax or interact with other parents in an upscale café lounge and seating area. With a holistic, eco-friendly and Montessori-inspired approach the Nest Play Café offers programming including baby sign language, Spanish, Mandarin, sensory play, arts & crafts, and milestone development classes taught by a pediatric occupational therapist. EDGE funding will enable to owners to do phase 2 of their construction plan for an additional restroom and add plumbing and buy equipment for an organic coffee and smoothie bar area.
Studio B. (Harrington)Studio B seeks to establish a unique fusion of commerce and art by serving as an ultra-fast turnaround print-on-demand hub and a supportive community workspace. The company will offer convenient access to top-notch print work such as restaurant menus, business cards, flyers, banners, and more. Additionally, Studio B will extend its services to artists and individuals, providing access to professional assistance, a supportive creative environment, and high-end tools and equipment that are typically out of reach for independent creators. EDGE funding will help the company acquire equipment and professional website assistance for effective outreach, marketing, and online sales potential.