A drone company, a solar cell developer, a printing company, a café – even a hay baler – all have something in common. They are small, relatively young businesses, and their potential has been recognized by a competitive grant program.
(speaking in the video: Governor John Carney; Del. Division of Small Business Director Regina Mitchell; Jonetta White with Doubly LLC)
The seventh round of EDGE grants (Encouraging Development, Growth and Expansion) was celebrated in Wilmington Wednesday. Ten businesses will receive matching grants of up to $100,000 for STEM-related businesses and up to $50,000 in the entrepreneur class. To qualify, businesses must be less than seven years old and may employ up to ten people.
Governor John Carney said the state has long recognized the importance of small business to the state’s economy, but how to boost their chances of success was the question.
“It couldn’t make me happier to be part of this and to know that we found a way to help small businesses develop and create jobs for the people of our state,” Carney said.
Over its seven rounds, EDGE grants have supported 80 small businesses with grants totaling $5-million. Applications for future funding will be accepted starting in September.
“It is open to all types of businesses. I think that’s what we really see through the program is the variety of businesses and the different types of things people are doing,” Delaware Division of Small Business Director Regina Mitchell said.
Jonetta White of Middletown-based Doubly LLC, a STEM category winner, encourages small businesses to apply, even if they were not previously successful.
“A lot of times you go into a proposal process, it’s kind of like no man’s land, you don’t really know what to say, but in this particular application process it’s very clear. There are a number of individuals who are available to kind of guide you as you’re developing your application,” White said.
“Small businesses in Delaware are job creators, innovators, help create economic diversity, and reduce environmental impacts,” Deputy Secretary of State Kristopher Knight said. “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.”
The Delaware Division of Small Business provided details on the Spring 2023 EDGE grant winners:
EDGE Grant Recipients
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.
Doubly, LLC (Middletown)
Doubly is a minority and women-owned startup founded in 2023. Doubly is an innovative application that integrates seamlessly with enterprise messaging platforms like Teams and Slack to help boost productivity, and connectedness as a result of remote work conditions. EDGE funding will be used to finalize the application’s development and conduct extensive user testing as well as hire software engineers and designers to expedite the application’s development.
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.