EDGE Competition Reaches Milestone – 100 Small Businesses Awarded Grants Since 2019

Staff WriterBusiness, RSS-Business

A State of Delaware program that helps small businesses start or grow during the first few years of operation hit a major milestone Thursday. The Delaware Division of Small Business announced the most recent grant awards for the Encouraging Development, Growth and Expansion (EDGE) competition on May 23rd in Dover. The awards given to 10 Delaware small businesses for the spring 2024 round, bring the total number of businesses awarded funds under the EDGE program to 100.

Awardees in the latest round of the competition include a company working treat severe allergic disease and cancer, one Wilmington based company developing an app to teach baseball to inexperienced and underserved children, one company in Seaford looking to expand deliveries of their pies, and one in Dover opening a second location for counseling to families facing infertility.

Including this round, $6.51 million has been awarded to 100 promising Delaware small businesses since the program launched in 2019, in industries ranging from advanced medical technology to farming and restaurants.

Governor John Carney, Deputy Secretary Kristopher Knight, and Division of Small Business Director Regina Mitchell announced the companies at an event on May 23, at the Kent County Administration Building in Dover.

“We started the EDGE grant program in 2019 to give small businesses an ‘edge’ over their competition. I’ve been impressed every year with the innovation and creativity of business owners across the state, and what EDGE grant winners have done with their awards to advance their business,” said Governor Carney. “I’m proud that we’ve been able to deliver this necessary funding to 100 small businesses since 2019 and I congratulate this year’s winners.”
“I want to congratulate today’s winners for their success, as well as the Division of Small Business in helping 100 small businesses take their businesses to the next level,” said Deputy Secretary of State Kristopher Knight. “Small businesses create economic diversity in our state by helping create new industries and markets, not to mention trying new ideas which can spur development of new products and services, shining a spotlight on the place we call home.”
Businesses that are less than seven years old and employ no more than 10 full-time employees (or FTE equivalents), are eligible to apply for an EDGE grant. The grants are awarded through a competitive selection process. After thorough internal review, 14 finalists were selected to pitch their proposals to an outside expert panel of judges. Ten companies are selected each round 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.

“I am so proud of our team, and what we’ve been able to accomplish through the EDGE program,” said Division of Small Business Director Regina Mitchell. “Each awardee today, and each applicant who applied, had a story to tell about how they want to make our state, and the lives of the people who live here, better and easier through their proposals. We’re excited for the winners and pleased to contribute to their journey.”

The application period for the next round of the EDGE program will open in August.

EDGE is a matching grant program. The Division of Small Business matches a winning business’s investment on a 3-to-1 basis. The business can spend EDGE grant 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.

This is the ninth round of funding for the program. One hundred twenty businesses applied for funding in February, 97 in the entrepreneur category and 23 in the STEM category. Fourteen finalists gave public presentations in early May at the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center. From those, the below recipients were selected.

STEM Category

Anvigen (Newark)
Anvigen LLC, is a materials science start-up, founded in 2023. The company has developed a sustainable solution to efficiently degrade and dispose of corn stalks on farms. It developed a novel water-based spray that contains corn stalk degrading bacteria stored inside biodegradable microcapsules. When the microcapsules are sprayed on the corn stalk, the bacteria are slowly released and the stalks degraded, thereby not only returning the useful nutrients contained in corn stalk back into the soil, but also converting the corn stalk into organic matter supporting soil health for the next crop cycle. The technology eliminates the need for the current disposal method which is burning, preventing millions of tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere. The EDGE grant funds will be use for equipment to manufacture the product on a large scale for field testing.

Cellergy Pharma (Wilmington)
Cellergy Pharma is an early-stage Delaware biotechnology company dedicated to developing cures for severe allergic diseases and cancer. They are the first company to develop Chimeric Antigen Receptor engineered T cells (CAR T cells), or white blood cells, to treat severe allergic diseases. The company is also developing a novel CAR T cell product to treat Acute Myeloid Leukemia. The EDGE Grant funding will be used to equip a functional cell therapy development lab, enabling the company to accelerate its research and development efforts.

Make the Play (Wilmington)
Make the Play is a mobile app designed to enhance and expand youth engagement with baseball, by making the complex game easier for youth to learn via a user-friendly, gamified experience. The goal is to simplify the learning process and enhance the youth baseball experience for children, coaches, and families. The EDGE grant funding will be used to take this product which is already in development into three critical phases: a sales & marketing launch strategy, expansion of the app for advanced players, and adaptions to apply its use to the game of softball.
NESTER (Wilmington)

NESTER is the first tool to help homebuyers and homeowners predict and plan for the cost of future home repairs and maintenance. For a homebuyer, they can calculate that into their budget projections so they can buy a house they can afford long term. It’s like CarFax, but for houses. The existing platform is built for an individual homeowner to understand the future expenses for their home but is not currently set up, either for an individual or a company, to enter data for multiple homes or to aggregate the data to forecast maintenance. EDGE funding will be used to build an Enterprise Platform that will allow a user to do that. Having access to this platform will impact many public and private entities including: large single family rental operators, government housing projects (Housing Authorities), small investors with multiple properties, and real estate brokerages.

Toivoa (Newark)
Toivoa, Inc.’s mission is to fill the gap in mental health care for persons with disabilities. Toivoa will use EDGE funding to bring to market, Rauha, a doctor-prescribed, digital cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) therapy plus mental health coaching solution designed to treat depression and/or anxiety and tailored to meet the specific needs of the disabled community. Rauha matches patients with certified mental health coaches with similar lived experiences. This innovative care model is making delivery of mental healthcare scalable and accessible without restricting patient access due to location, mobility challenges, language differences (e.g., American Sign Language); all issues for people living with disabilities.

Entrepreneur Category

3&D Sports Performance (Wilmington)
3&D Sports Performance is a Sports Performance Facility. 3&D will use EDGE funding to secure a second location, equipment purchases to outfit the location, and specialized courses/certifications so coaches can implement their injury prevention programming. The new equipment purchases will consist of turf, special rubber flooring that protects athletes’ joints, force plates for data analysis and new stretching devices. These equipment purchases will help them achieve their goal of helping 1,000 female athletes remain injury-free through specialized strength and mobility training. In comparison to their male counterparts, female athletes are 7x more likely to tear their ACL.

Beachin Bash (Rehoboth Beach)
Beachin’ Bash is an event management company specializing in unique events from luxury beach picnics and beach bonfires to bachelorette/bachelor parties, corporate gatherings, large festivals, and in house catering. Beachin’ Bash will use EDGE funding to purchase an updated cargo van. The acquisition of a gently used, high-top van will enhance their operational capabilities, allowing for more efficient and reliable transport of equipment and supplies, thereby supporting their expansion and ability to manage multiple events simultaneously. This investment will ensure that Beachin’ Bash remains at the forefront of delivering luxury and ease at every event.

Coastal Key Lime Pie (Seaford)
Coastal Key Lime Pie is a family owned and operated small business in Sussex County. Husband-and-wife team Jessica and Lee Williamson officially launched the business in February 2023 in a Sussex County Incubator Kitchen, finally settling into their dedicated commercial kitchen in Seaford in January 2024. They sell their custom key lime pies at local farmers markets, pop-up events, and two retail partners in Lewes and Rehoboth Beach. The EDGE funding will help them expand their business. They plan to use it for a refrigerated vehicle to ensure large orders of key lime pies maintain their proper temperature during transportation, a pie crumb former to increase the daily production of pies, and advertising.

G & R Campground (Houston)
G&R Campground, is the oldest black-owned campground and RV park in the United States. The owners have self-funded the campground since its acquisition, making significant improvements to attract a younger demographic of campers and expand their business. The general store, solar panels, hammocks, park, outdoor games, and garden have all been updated to enhance the overall experience for visitors. G&R will use the EDGE grant funding to renovate the activity hall, aligning with its mission to enhance visitor experiences and promote eco-conscious celebrations that support local businesses. The renovation includes infrastructure improvements, structural repairs and upgrades, flooring and lighting enhancements, accessibility features, eco-friendly design, energy-efficient lighting, waste reduction initiatives, outdoor landscaping, and technology upgrades including Wi-Fi.

Willow Counseling Services (Dover)
Willow Counseling Services, has established itself as a reliable provider of mental health support, with a particular focus on the perinatal period. Recognizing the lack of essential support for mental health during motherhood, Willow Counseling’s owner made it her mission to create a safe space where women could find solace and the support they need. Willow Counseling Services offers insurance-based services, ensuring that high-quality mental health services are accessible throughout Delaware.

With the growing demand for their services, Willow Counseling aims to open a second office location in Middletown, expanding the reach of their community care and creating job opportunities for therapists and interns. Edge Grant Funding will be utilized for construction of the second office space, office furniture, medically compliant office supplies and equipment, and marketing.

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