In addition to seed funding of $80,000, receiving top honors for northern Indiana in the Elevate Nexus Regional Pitch Competitions earned Blaire Biomedical the right to compete for an additional $100,000.

Out of 58 finalists, Elevate Ventures awarded pre-seed funding of $20,000 to 10 startups and seed funding of $80,000 to six startups, for a combined investment of $680,000 through the regionals.

It plans to award an additional $320,000 through a statewide competition, which has been scheduled for May 19.

“The competition will be live-streamed via Zoom,” said Erica Schweyer, Elevate’s vice president of marketing and communications, in an email.

“The $320,000 will be awarded to five companies. Two companies will receive $100K investments and three companies will receive $40K investments.”

Indianapolis-based Elevate Ventures is a statewide nonprofit investment and entrepreneurship development and advocacy group that manages the Indiana Angel Network Fund and the Indiana Seed Fund.

It started the Elevate Nexus program last year to help colleges and universities in the state to initiate investment pitch competitions if they did not already have such contests.

The first of Elevate’s Nexus Regional Pitch Competitions leading to a statewide competition took place last October.

Of 75 applicants, 67 finalists were invited to compete in that contest, which provided the entrepreneurs 10 minutes each to convince a panel of regional judges that their companies would be the most likely to provide the best returns on seed and pre-seed investments.

Pierceton-based CoolCorp Inc. and Warsaw-based Eclipse Orthopaedics were among last year’s regional winners.

Pitch competition programs by organizations such as Elevate Ventures have become more important to the entrepreneurial community as employers across the country have curtailed business to comply with state-imposed COVID-19 restrictions.

The resulting recession has made it more difficult for startups to attract funding from investment groups.

“There is no question that friends and family dollars and angel investors have significantly slowed because of the performance of the public markets,” Chris LaMothe, Elevate’s CEO, said in an email.

“Venture and private equity have shifted their focus to predominately fostering existing portfolio companies to make sure they have the resources they need. There has been a slowdown in investment from private sources,” he said.

“The impact for Elevate Ventures is that because we are a co-investment fund, our investment is slowing. It’s more difficult for entrepreneurs to raise money in today’s environment.”

Elevate does regional pitch competitions twice a year, in February and October. February’s took place in Innovation Park at the University of Notre Dame, in Flagship Enterprise Center at Anderson University and on the Bloomington campus of Ivy Tech Community College.

The other seed funding winner for northern Indiana was South Bend-based CODEinCLASS. The other pre-seed funding winners for the region were Upland-based Allervent, Cedar Lake-based Rabbit Tractors and South Bend-based Lumen Bio.

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