Helping small businesses grow.

Success Stories

AureoGen Biosciences

In 2016, AureoGen secured a license agreement with Merck & Co. The American pharmaceutical company, one of the largest in the world, will have exclusive rights to use the chemistry and derivatives of an antifungal compound developed by AureoGen to produce a broad spectrum antibiotic to treat infectious diseases, including systemic fungal infections which tend to affect people with a compromised immune system.

“The marketplace has been asking for a broad spectrum antibiotic that would work for all fungal infections,” said Dr. Ake Elhammer, Founder and CEO of AureoGen Biosciences. “With this compound we have managed to solve a problem that has plagued the industry for some time.”

Dr. Elhammer began researching this natural-product compound in the late 1990’s while a scientist at Pfizer, Inc. After Pfizer moved their research and development activity out of Kalamazoo, he and his business partner – Dr. Jerry Slightom – launched AureoGen to further research, develop, and modify the compound in order to create the broad spectrum drug compound.

Dr. Elhammer has worked with several MI-SBDC Tech Team consultants. Through them, he has been introduced to a variety of funding avenues, including the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Western Michigan University (WMU) Bioscience Research and Commercialization Center (BRCC), National Institutes of Health (NIH) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), Michigan Tri-Technology Corridor (MTTC), and National Institutes of Standards and Technology, Advanced Technology Program (NIST/ATP). In total, the company has secured over $8 million in Federal grants and loans.

“I appreciated the encouragement from Sandra and Barry to get started and the connections to make it happen,” shared Dr. Elhammer. “John added the business component to the mix which allowed me to get a feel for how business was supposed to work.”

The company holds six patents and has completed the initial research on other antibiotics. In the future, Dr. Elhammer envisions partnering with investors to be able to carry projects further into development and past the pre-clinical trials.

In addition to securing millions in grants and loans, AueroGen was named one of Michigan 50 Companies to Watch in 2009 and received the Best Technology of the Year Award in 2008 from the Michigan New Enterprise Forum. Most recently, the company entered into a licensing deal with Merck & Co., an American pharmaceutical company and one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.

-Source: SBDC

Sponsored by the City of South Haven, South Haven Chamber of Commerce, and Lake Michigan College.

Congratulations to Gregory Shelton of Grand Unique Laundry for receiving his first loan through Northern Initiatives. With help from his SCORE mentor, Cheri Bales, Gregory did a fantastic job on developing his business plan and showing real entrepreneurial spirit. We wish you much success, and look forward to your upward movement. You are a wonderful role model.

—Gregory Shelton of Grand Unique Laundry

I appreciate your ears for listening, your eyes that see my vision and your heart that makes you who you are.  I thank you for your time. You are making a difference.

—Shawntel Lindsey, Director, The Artbor Community Connections Center

The WMed Innovation Center is a perfect environment for innovation to grow and become a successful commercial enterprise.


WMU Business Connection logo

Whether you are seeking a research partner or want to enlist the help of student groups in developing business plans, or just looking for ways to engage with WMU, the Business Connection office can find the resource to help move your business forward.


A loan (from Local Initiatives Support Corporation) helped expand our cafe to triple our seating, add a kids space, increase much needed staff work areas, and make other improvements to the space.


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The Michigan eLibrary (MeL) is the State of Michigan’s digital library. It has excellent resources available to Michigan residents at no cost.


Western Michigan University’s Starting Gate helped me take an idea and transform it into a much more attainable reality. Whether providing talks with investors and business owners or accountability, the ultimate goal is helping your business succeed.

—Peter Shutt

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The Kalamazoo Land Bank did robust community engagement around the vision and gave us something to work with that was solidly desired by people in the neighborhood. Having a vision meant we had to protect it. That’s something I thank the Land Bank for. It was difficult. It didn’t make anything faster or easier, but we got a better project in the end as a result of it.

—Matt Hollander

Buy Local logo

Buy Local Greater Kalamazoo is a hard working grassroots group focused on the greater Kalamazoo community and its small businesses. Their events and networking opportunities are the best!

—Cheri Bales

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Michigan SBDC is a great company providing top notch service to local businesses all over Michigan. The consultants are professional and the student workers contribute with excellent work!

—Martin Herman Sorensen