Edge small business winners

EDGE reaches milestone with 100 small business grants

Betsy PriceHeadlines, Business

Edge small business winners

Edge winners include, from left, front row, Tanisha George (Make the Play), Alisha McCanney (Willow Counseling Services) and Jessica and Lee Williamson (Coastal Key Lime Pie); middle row, Rita Landgraf (board member of Toivoa, owned by Laura Randa), Greg Gates (Make the Play), Dr. Sumedh P. Surwade (Anvigen), Christian George (Make the Play), Alexandra Walsh (NESTER), Erica Kirlin (Beachin Bash) and Yolanda Young (G & R Campground); back row, Dr. Zhengu Ma and Ronald Dudek (Cellergy Pharma), Lovell Kosh and Raychel Shannon (3 & D Sports Performance), Brendan Kennealy (NESTER), Jim Kirlin (Beachin Bash) and Leonard Young (G & R Campground)

A Delaware Division of Small Business program that gives small business grants to start or grow has awarded cash to 100 businesses in its first five years.

The EDGE competition — short for Encouraging Development, Growth and Expansion competition — reached that milestone Thursday, when it gave money to 10 small businesses in the first of its biannual awards.

In total, the program has given out $6.51 million in a 3-to-1 match with the companies.

Those businesses who won an award Thursday included include a company working treat severe allergic disease and cancer, a Wilmington company developing an app to teach baseball to inexperienced and underserved children, a company in Seaford looking to expand deliveries of their pies, and a Dover group opening a second location for counseling families facing infertility.

“Each awardee today, and each applicant who applied, had a story to tell about how they want to make our state,” said Division of Small Business Director Regina Mitchell, “and the lives of the people who live here, better and easier through their proposals.”

Deputy Secretary of State Kristopher Knight said 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 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.

Each spring and fall, five STEM-based companies each receive up to $100,000 for eligible expenses while five Entrepreneur Class businesses each receive up to $50,000.

“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 Gov. John Carney.

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

Businesses 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.

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.

EDGE STEM winners

Anvigen LLC is a Newark materials science start-up, founded in 2023. The company has developed a sustainable solution to efficiently degrade and dispose of corn stalks on farms. Its water-based spray contains corn stalk degrading bacteria stored inside biodegradable microcapsules that slowly release the bacteria. That puts useful nutrients back into the soil, but also converts the stalk into organic matter supporting soil health for the next crop. The technology eliminates the need for burning, the usual way to get ride of corn stalks and prevents millions of tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere. Anvigen will use the EDGE funds for equipment to manufacture the product on a large scale for field testing.

Cellergy Pharma is an early-stage Wilmington biotechnology company dedicated to developing cures for severe allergic diseases and cancer. They are the first 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. It will use EDGE funding to equip a cell therapy development lab to accelerate its research and development efforts.

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

NESTER, a Wilmington company, 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. The existing platform is not set up for individuals or a company to enter data for multiple homes or to aggregate the data to forecast maintenance. EDGE funding will be used to build a platform that will do that.

Toivoa Inc.’s mission is to fill the gap in mental health care for persons with disabilities. The Wilmington-based company will use EDGE funding to bring to market Rauha, a doctor-prescribed, digital cognitive behavioral therapy therapy plus a mental health coaching solution. It’s 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. Rauha is meant to make delivery of mental healthcare scalable and accessible without restricting patient access due to location, mobility challenges, language differences (e.g., American Sign Language 

EDGE entrepreneur winners

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

Beachin Bash is a Rehoboth Beach 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. It will use EDGE funding to purchase an updated cargo van, allowing for more efficient and reliable transport of equipment and supplies, and helping the company provide multiple events simultaneously.

IN THE NEWS: Goodwill’s glass pulverizer will help it get into the sand business

Coastal Key Lime Pie is a family owned and operated small business in Seaford. Husband-and-wife team Jessica and Lee Williamson launched the business in February 2023 before moving into a dedicated commercial kitchen 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 with a new 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 of Georgetown 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 demographics and expand their business. The general store, solar panels, hammocks, park, outdoor games and garden have all been updated. EDGE funding will help renovate the activity hall through infrastructure improvements, structural repairs and upgrades, flooring and lighting enhancements, accessibility features,  energy-efficient lighting, waste reduction initiatives, outdoor landscaping and technology upgrades including Wi-Fi.

Willow Counseling Services of Dover provides mental health support, with a focus on the perinatal period. Recognizing the lack of essential support during that time, Willow Counseling strives to create a safe space where women can find solace and the support they need. Willow Counseling will use the EDGE grant to open a second office location in Middletown, creating job opportunities for therapists and interns. The grant will help pay for office space construction, office furniture, medically compliant office supplies and equipment, and marketing.

Share this Post