The Delaware Division of Small Business has recognized 10 small businesses as winners of the eighth round of the Encouraging Development, Growth and Expansion (EDGE) competition. Awardees in the latest round of the competition include a company looking 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 cutting-edge computers and streaming equipment for its esports events and camps.
Governor John Carney, Deputy Secretary of State Kristopher Knight and Division of Small Business Director Regina Mitchell announced the grant recipients during an event on the site of one of the winning companies, Delaware Dynamix in Harbeson, Sussex County. All winners were selected from entries made during the Fall 2023 application round.
“Building a strong economy starts with supporting our small business community,” Carney said. “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 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 that are less than seven years old and employ no more than 10 full-time employees (or full-time equivalents) are eligible to apply. The grants are awarded through a competitive selection process, starting with a thorough internal review to select 16 finalists to pitch their proposals to an outside expert panel of judges. Ten companies are then selected for awards. Five STEM-based companies each receive up to $100,000 for eligible expenses while five Entrepreneur Class (non-STEM) businesses 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 Mitchell. “The quality of the fall applications was so strong, so 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 round for 2024 began accepting applications on February 1. Deadline for this round is 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 1. Visit de.gov/edge for access to the application and other resources.
EDGE is a matching grant program, with the Division of Small Business matching a winning business’s investment on a 3-to-1 basis. The business can spend EDGE 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, $5.6 million has been awarded to 90 promising Delaware small businesses since EDGE was launched in 2019. Industries represented have ranged from wearable medical devices to farming to restaurants.
This was the eighth round of funding for the program. Approximately 115 businesses applied for funding in September, and 16 finalists gave public presentations in November at the University of Delaware’s FinTech building on the STAR Campus. From those, the following recipients were selected:
Marin’s Med (Georgetown)
Marin’s Med is a pioneering prosthetics innovations company, distinguished by their woman-owned status and their Chief Technical Officer (CTO), an amputee and accomplished engineer. Marin’s 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.
OmniPotential Energy Partners (Wilmington)
OmniPotential Energy Partners will use funding to build a proof-of-concept pilot program of curbside, residential electric vehicle (EV) chargers and install them on Delaware properties. The company will use funds to finalize 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 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. Learn more from founder Cora Castle in this Delaware Prosperity Partnership “Profiles in Innovation” feature.
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 throughout the world 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, software licenses and covering research and development staff costs. Learn more from founder Doug Adams in this Delaware Prosperity Partnership video.
Sindri Materials Corp. (Wilmington)
Sindri Materials is a manufacturer and product development company dedicated to delivering ultra-high quality (UHQ) graphene (carbon) materials and products to market. Sindri can produce graphene that 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 structural biologists image macromolecules using a ground-breaking new method called cryogenic electron microscopy (the “cryo-em” market). The graphene grids essentially hold the macromolecules in place for imaging.
Studio Charter (Wilmington)
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 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 production of clear aligners on site, reducing the cost of orthodontic care for 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, as well as 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. They will use EDGE Grant funds for equipment and staffing at their 7000-square-foot facility for a Little Ninja program aimed at young boys, as well as for 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 accreditation in educational technology, media and esports entertainment. EDGE Grant funding will be used to acquire cutting-edge gaming and streaming computers, software and furniture for an esports technology workforce training facility. Funding will also allow the company to organize more workforce development trainings, esports events and esports camps. Learn more about Futures First Gaming from founder Stephen Sye in this Delaware Prosperity Partnership feature.
The Hive on Loockerman (Dover)
The Hive is a minority-owned, member-based business and event center that aims to support entrepreneurs and nonprofit founders by providing them with the space, equipment and resources necessary for business growth and long-term success. The Hive primarily offers hourly space rentals and a range of 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 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 be used to fund the creation of plastic injection molds and a first production run of 500 units, packaging and third-party product testing.
The EDGE Grant is just one of the many programs and services the Delaware Division of Small Business provides to help small businesses start and grow in Delaware. From startups to experienced business owners looking to expand, the DSB’s team is committed to providing one-on-one assistance and counseling to help small businesses succeed. Assistance is available in a variety of areas, including navigating government processes, connecting owners with the Division’s resource partner organizations and identifying funding opportunities for which businesses may qualify. All of the programs and services DSB offers are outlined at business.delaware.gov.