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Cannoptics Wins NMU Business Competition April 3, 2020

Northern Michigan University senior medicinal plant chemistry major Michael Cole won first place in the New Business Venture Competition sponsored by the Northern Michigan University College of Business. His proposal, Cannoptics, will provide patients, cultivators, producers and dispensaries with important information about the safety, quality and potency of their medicinal/recreational cannabis products. The competition’s final activities took place virtually because of the COVID-19 situation.

Cannoptic Labs intends to use a high-pressure liquid chromatography, gas chromatography, inductively coupled plasma, mass spectrometry and polymerase chain reaction as the primary testing methods. Cole also won first place for his written business plan as well as the crowd favorite award. His winnings include $5,500 in cash prizes and over $5,700 in consulting and technology services.

The team of Max Steele, a junior management major, and Jonathan Damon, junior computer science major, earned second place for OccuDec. The business focuses on finding long-term, affordable solutions to parking problems using custom-built occupancy detection software that takes advantage of state-of-the-art machine learning technology. Steele and Damon were awarded $1,500 worth of consulting and technology services.

The typical New Business Venture Competition culminates with a trade fair display and business plan presentations, followed by an evening event during which each team presents its “Big Pitch” to the judging panel. Because of COVID-19, participants this year gave their business presentations to a panel of judges using ZOOM, which was live-streamed on NMU’s YouTube channel.

The competition began with a brief introduction by the Dean of the College of Business, Carol Johnson. She introduced the judging panel and explained how the competition would work. She also explained that the crowd favorite voting would take place through a link that would remain open for 24 hours following the competition. Competitors then presented their business plans and used the screen-sharing technique to allow viewers to see their PowerPoints. Each presentation was followed by ample time for the judging panel to ask questions.

Local businesses providing consultation services or technology support were: 906 Technologies, Inc.; Kendricks, Bordeau, Adamini, Greenlee & Keefe, PC; Tailored CPA’s, P.C.; and QuickTrophy.

Both finalists participating in the finale received business consultation from the College of Business faculty and reimbursement funds up to $200 for business development and materials.

The New Business Venture Competition is designed to encourage entrepreneurial activism and is open to all students regardless of their degree program. It recognizes and rewards those who present detailed plans for designing and creating new business enterprises, drawing on their own ideas and inventions or those of others.

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