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EDGE grants awarded to 10 Delaware small businesses

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Gov. John Carney (center) and Division of Small Business Director Regina Mitchell (left) pose with the February 2023 EDGE grant recipients. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DSB

DOVER – Ten small companies were honored as winners of the sixth round of Encouraging Development, Growth and Expansion (EDGE) grants Wednesday by the Delaware Division of Small Business, including an electrical firm, a beer garden, an apiary, and a startup that developed an app for parents to follow school buses.

At an event at Sweets & Treats Studio in Dover, a 2021 EDGE grant recipient, Gov. John Carney and state Small Business Director Regina Mitchell congratulated the firms.

“The EDGE Grant program is helping our state’s newest small businesses expand and innovate by providing much-needed capital assistance that these businesses may not have access to otherwise,” Carney said in a statement. “The small businesses awarded a grant in this latest round of EDGE represent the best Delaware has to offer, and we are excited to see how the grant funds help their businesses grow.”

To be eligible for an EDGE award, a business must be under 5 years old and have fewer than 10 workers. A competitive selection procedure is used to award the grants, with Entrepreneur Class (non-STEM) eligible to receive up to $50,000 for qualified costs, compared to $100,000 for STEM-based organizations.

EDGE grants are made on a 3-1 match basis, and recipients can use the funding for costs that raise its prospects of long-term success, such a marketing campaign to attract more clients or the purchase of  necessary equipment to boost productivity.

“With more than 27,000 small businesses in Delaware that employ more than half of our state’s workers and account for nearly $14 billion in wages, small businesses are the backbone of Delaware’s economy,” Secretary of State Jeff Bullock said in a statement. “The EDGE grant program provides these creative, driven entrepreneurs with the capital they need to start or grow their business and reach their full potential.”

Since the start of EDGE in 2019, $4.2 million has been given in six rounds to 68 Delaware small businesses in a variety of sectors, including agriculture, restaurants, and wearable medical technologies. More than 120 firms submitted funding requests in this most recent round, which began in September. In December, 14 finalists made public presentations in front of an experienced panel of judges.

This round of EDGE financing has selected a broad group of small firms as winners, including three veteran-owned businesses, two owned by minorities, and seven owned by women. Since the program’s inception, minority- and women-owned firms have made up 27% and 41% of EDGE winners, respectively.

“The EDGE grant 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,” Mitchell said in a statement. “Our division is proud to support these worthy small businesses and help them succeed in their efforts.”

One of the winning businesses in the latest round of EDGE funding is Rail Haus, a beer garden slated to open later this year in Dover. Rail Haus will use the $50,000 in EDGE funds to purchase outdoor heaters, firepits, trees, sod, and a sprinkler system for the beer garden.

“We are honored and excited to be selected as a winner of EDGE grant funding in this round,” Rail Haus co-owner Donny Legans said. “Our goal is to open a year-round destination beer garden in the heart of downtown Dover and winning this grant is the next step in helping our plans come to fruition. The EDGE grant funding will allow us to make significant investments in the outdoor space at the beer garden so we can offer our customers the best experience possible.”

EDGE Grant Recipients

STEM class

  • A. I. Whoo (Newark) $85,000
    A.I. Whoo is working to develop a mobile application for clinicians to conduct gait assessments using a smartphone. A gait assessment is the evaluation of the way someone walks and is used to diagnose disorders in walking patterns. Current gait assessment technologies require patients to go into an office to be evaluated. The A.I. Whoo app will enable gait assessments to be conducted remotely. EDGE grant funds will be used to develop the mobile application software and market it to clinicians.
  • Rotulu (Camden) $94,125
    Rotulu is developing an application that provides real-time busing information for parents and schools with the benefits of instant messaging and alerts, two-way communication, and an easy-to-use interface. Rotulu is currently beta testing features and receiving valuable, real-world feedback from charter schools, which is ensuring the solution being built is accurate and effective. EDGE grant funds will be used to build out the desired functionality in the parent communication app, integrate the app with Android and Apple devices, enhance existing cloud infrastructure, and create additional features in the app.
  • All Azimuth Solutions (Magnolia) $100,000
    All Azimuth Solutions (AAS) is developing and commercializing proprietary technology, including the electronic Community Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) Toolkit, known as eCAT. The eCAT platform will house a repository of information to include educational and outreach materials, AAM demonstration playbooks, and community leaders’ decision support tools to integrate AAM into communities. The EDGE grant will be used for eCAT software development and deployment, association fees, a demonstration booth, marketing materials, advertising, and website improvements.
  • BioCurie (Wilmington) $100,000
    BioCurie is a startup in Wilmington that is developing the world’s first AI-based software to transform the current state of cell and gene therapy (CGT) production from today’s brute-force “hit-or-miss” approach to a new data-driven paradigm. This innovative software will enable biopharma to swiftly and efficiently develop and manufacture CGTs that are safe, effective, and affordable. The EDGE grant will fund the commercialization of BioCurie’s first product for gene therapy manufacturing.
  • Voice 4 Impact (Wilmington) $100,000
    Voice 4 Impact (V4I) delivers sustainable technology solutions to create safer and healthier communities. With their patented technology, V4I is at the forefront of observing and understanding human behavior. V4I’s solution connects people, communities, and data to increase awareness, create greener traffic solutions and build equitable funding goals. As a result, agencies make a 1:1 connection with the public at a fraction of the cost and time of traditional methods. EDGE grant funds will be used to staff, develop, and scale V4I’s platform to serve more utilities, tolling and transportation facilities in order to expand the company’s reach.

Entrepreneur Class

  • BlackDog Behavior and Training LLC (Wilmington) $45,000
    BlackDog provides accessible behavioral support to Delaware dog owners with private in-home training and post-adoption support for animals adopted through local shelters. Even more central to the mission, however, is to support its surrounding community through advocacy, education, and access to resources. Initial grant funding through EDGE will foster BlackDog’s expansion into a more sustainable operating model utilizing a standalone space for training activities.
  • Sassy Bee Honey LLC (Bellefonte) $46,617
    Sassy Bee Honey is a Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) apiary founded with a passion for curating handmade products while having a positive impact on the environment and increasing accessibility to locally-sourced products throughout Delaware. Sassy Bee’s current business model utilizes Micro Apiaries, utilizing small clusters of bee colonies in several locations. In 2021, 700 pounds of honey was extracted and processed from 10 colonies. The EDGE funding will be used to renovate a 400 square foot space and purchase more efficient equipment in order to increase production capacity.
  • Nourish Markets (Wilmington) $46,998
    Nourish Markets provides 24-hour access to healthy, affordable, and sustainable foods, snacks, beverages, and ready-to-eat meal options. Nourish Markets is forging a pioneering path in the health and wellness convenience food industry by establishing Delaware’s first 100% autonomous marketplace. The mission of Nourish Markets is uncomplicated – to make healthy food, snack, and beverage options accessible, convenient, and affordable to all consumers while employing industry-leading technologies. The EDGE grant will be used to purchase frictionless hardware equipment so the company can expand and open a second location in Wilmington. 
  • Rail Haus (Dover) $50,000
    Rail Haus’ mission is to be a great beer garden, all the time, for everyone and aims to be the first year-round beer garden in the state. With a focused investment in both the inside and outside space, Rail Haus will be the destination spot Dover deserves and have a large, positive impact on the surrounding community. This family-friendly, dog-friendly project will be smartly operated, inclusive, and fun. The EDGE grant will be used to purchase outdoor heaters, firepits, trees, sod, and a sprinkler system.
  • Pink Electrical Services (Clayton) $50,000
    Pink Electrical Services (PES) provides expert electrical services to Delaware businesses and homeowners. PES offers free estimates and reliable, high-quality service. Their electricians maintain a professional demeanor and great customer service while performing at the highest level. The EDGE grant will be used to purchase up to two work trucks which would enable the company to hire a crew comprised of electricians and journeymen.

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