Division of Small Business awards EDGE Grants to 15 Delaware companies

MIDDLETOWN, Del. (December 16, 2021) – The Delaware Division of Small Business recognized 15 small businesses Thursday as winners of the fourth round of Encouraging Development, Growth and Expansion (EDGE) Grants. Awardees in the latest round of the competition include a company working to alleviate phantom limb pain for amputees, a maker of easy-to-use diagnostic tests for aquaculture, an artisanal popsicle store and a supplier of home brewing materials.

Gov. John Carney and Division of Small Business Director Jordan Schulties announced the companies at an event at CrossFit Petram in Middletown, one of the small businesses awarded an EDGE Grant in this round.

“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,” said Governor Carney. “The small businesses awarded a grant in this latest round of EDGE are creating unique solutions and products that set them apart from their competition. They represent the best Delaware has to offer, and we are excited to see how the grant funds help their businesses grow.”

Businesses who are less than five years old and employ no more than 10 employees are eligible to apply for an EDGE Grant. The grants are awarded through a competitive selection process. STEM-based companies can receive up to $100,000 for eligible expenses while Entrepreneur Class (non-STEM) businesses can receive up to $25,000.

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.

“Small businesses are the backbone of Delaware’s economy, with over 25,000 companies that employ more than half of our state’s workers,” Secretary of State Jeff Bullock said. “The EDGE program assists these creative, driven entrepreneurs in acquiring the capital support they need to reach their full potential.”

Since EDGE launched in 2019, $2.75 million has been awarded to 50 promising Delaware small businesses in industries ranging from wearable technology to agribusiness to craft brewing.

This is the fourth round of funding for the program since it launched in 2019. In this latest round, which opened in April, more than 100 businesses applied for funding. Twenty-three finalists gave public presentations before a panel of expert judges on November 16, 17 and 18 at Delaware Tech in Dover.

“Each round of the EDGE Grants competition demonstrates some of our state’s most innovative and influential new small businesses, and this round was no exception,” Division of Small Business Director Jordan Schulties said. “The winners in this latest round include the most diverse pool of small businesses we have ever had for the competition. All of the STEM awardees and seven out of 10 Entrepreneur awardees are minority or woman-owned businesses. Our division is proud to support these worthy small businesses and help them succeed in their efforts.”

CrossFit Petram received $25,000 in EDGE Grant funds to design & construct two showers inside their gym, purchase and install an infrared sauna and purchase new athlete recovery tools including compression boots and handheld massage guns.

“My business partner and I are honored to be selected as a winner of EDGE grant funding in this round,” said CrossFit Petram co-owner Chris Townsend. “Since we opened in 2017, our customers have expressed an interest in having showers in the gym, and the EDGE Grant funding gives us the opportunity to meet this business need. With this funding, our business can expand, and our membership numbers can grow well into the future.”

 

EDGE Grant Recipients

STEM class 

TheraV (Newark)
TheraV works to transform and innovate post-amputation therapy and rehabilitation through the creation of drug-free solutions that improve the quality of life of amputees. TheraV’s leading product, TheraV ELIX, is a drug-free wearable device that applies customized mechanical stimulation to overcome phantom limb pain. TheraV will use the EDGE grant funds for product development and manufacturing, website development, office space and conference travel.

CM Materials (Wilmington)
CM Materials is a seed-stage advanced materials company paving a more efficient future of electromagnetic components such as transformers, inductors, chokes, and filters. With the funds from the EDGE grant, the company will be able to demonstrate key performance improvements in devices for end-users which will accelerate the commercialization and market adaptation of CM Materials and increase the brand value.

Elyte Energy (Wilmington)
Elyte Energy uses patent-protected hydrogen technology to build a highly efficient power supply for generators and other fixed and portable devices. The EDGE grant will be used for laboratory space and equipment to develop a commercial prototype of its hydrogen-based system to power recreational vehicles.  

Gaskiya Diagnostics (Wilmington)
Gaskiya Diagnostics offers low-cost, paper-based and easy-to-use diagnostic tests for disease detection in aquaculture worldwide. The company will use its grant for research and development of its diagnostic aquaculture test, laboratory space and equipment and other services including a validated prototype to offer investors.

Kindwell (Wilmington)
Kindwell is a group of scientists, engineers and business executives dedicated to the improvement of chemical analysis to positively impact climate change, environmental justice and air quality. The company is using highly innovative and impactful technology to create compact gas chromatography devices and multi-pollutant monitors to measure organic and inorganic chemicals in the air. Kindwell will use its grant to make engineering and software upgrades to their devices and on marketing and commercialization of their products.

Entrepreneur class

How Do You Brew (Smyrna)
How Do You Brew is a retailer of supplies for home brewers currently based in Newark. The company will use EDGE funding to build and market a new retail space in Smyrna that will double as a warehouse and distribution center for the growing business, expanding their reach into Kent and Sussex counties.

Key to Life Juice Bar (Dover)
The Key to Life Juice Bar strives to promote and educate young people and members of the minority community on the importance of eating fruits and vegetables and the benefits of healthy eating. EDGE grant funds will be used for three months of rent at a location in downtown Dover, build-out needs, marketing and ingredients.

Lean On Me Caregiving (Dover)
Lean On Me Caregiving is a non-medical in-home care agency that services the entire state of Delaware. Services include, but are not limited to, personal care and hygiene, companionship, socialization, homemaking and organization, nutrition and hydration assistance, mental stimulation, dementia care and medication reminders. EDGE funding will be used to develop an advanced educational employee training program on a web-based platform and to purchase equipment needed for the program.

CrossFit Petram (Middletown)
CrossFit Petram is a brick-and-mortar gym strategically located in the heart of the MOT community, right on Main Street in downtown Middletown. Grant funds will be used to design & construct two showers inside the gym, purchase and install an infrared sauna and purchase new athlete recovery tools including compression boots and handheld massage guns.

One Way Insurance Group (Seaford)
One Way Insurance Group is a multilingual independent insurance agency specializing in auto, home, business and life and employee benefits. The company will use its EDGE grant to purchase a van and convert it into a mobile office to reach more clients and provide financial literacy to the communities it serves.

ONTrac (Middletown)
ONTrac is a self-improvement content publishing and accountability platform that aims to improve goal achievement outcomes by empowering self-improvement content creators and other accountability partners to create content utilizing their innovative, proprietary new content medium called SMARTracs™. Securing the EDGE Grant will allow ONTrac to differentiate itself from its competitors by launching a pilot opportunity with a well-known coach and social media influencer.

Pop In Artisan Pops (Middletown)
Pop In Artisan Pops is a manufacturer of custom frozen treats with a small fleet of vintage ice cream tricycles used at events. To grow their business, they need the ability to accommodate larger catering events, provide broader delivery options and expand distribution reach. They will use the EDGE grant funds to purchase a cargo van to expand their catering business.

Sweets & Treats (Dover)
Sweets & Treats is a dessert shop located in Dover’s historic downtown development district. The shop offers gourmet desserts and custom cakes and has served over 30,000 customers since opening in May 2019. EDGE grant funds will be used to expand the shop’s menu, purchase kitchen equipment and renovate the shop in order to add indoor seating.

The Berry Patch (Lincoln)
The family of Rodney and Yolonda Messick, including their sons Joshua and Jacob, are diversifying their grain farm operation to incorporate a U-Pick Berry Farm. The Berry Patch will utilize a growing system that is ideal for easy picking and handicap accessibility. The family plans to begin operating in the fall of 2022 and will use EDGE grant funds to purchase an IBEX strawberry growing system, which protects plants from frost, mold and pests, by using raised single containers and coconut husks as growing matter.

The Center for Grief and Trauma Therapy (Newark)
The Center for Grief and Trauma Therapy provides mental health services for those experiencing grief or trauma. The business will use grant funds for technology upgrades, including improved internet access for its clinicians and staff to provide telehealth and in-person therapy, and additional marketing efforts.


$12.3 Million in Health Insurance Rebates for Individuals and Small Businesses

Highmark plan participants and groups to receive checks

Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro announced today that Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware will issue rebates totaling over $12.3 million to some Delawareans. Residents who purchase insurance on the Delaware Health Insurance Marketplace, those who purchase Highmark Delaware plans outside of the marketplace, and Highmark small group policyholders may receive rebates as a result of the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) calculation.

MLR measures an insurer’s spending on medical expenses to confirm that at least 80 percent of premiums are being used for policyholders’ healthcare and prescription needs. It is an accountability measure included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that holds insurers to a strict standard and requires refunds if the threshold is not met. Insurers are not permitted to retain funds above this value for any reason, including to lower premiums for future years, as the policyholders effected may change. MLR is calculated on a three-year average – 2018, 2019, and 2020 were used in this assessment.

“Requiring insurers to meet the MLR ratio is one of the most critical tools the ACA gave us to protect consumers. These guardrails ensure residents and small businesses get the care they pay for, or get their money back – and they’re more important now than ever before,” explained Commissioner Navarro, who pointed to policyholders’ decreased and delayed use of healthcare throughout the pandemic as something likely to necessitate future rebates. “With decreased utilization of health services in 2020 and 2021 factoring into MLR for the next four years, and expected increases of utilization factoring into rates for 2022, this is yet another reminder that COVID will impact all aspects of healthcare, including insurance, for much of the foreseeable future.”

20,857 individual policyholders will receive rebates totaling over $8.4 million, with the average rebate being $405. This will be the second time in state history that rebates will be distributed to the participants of the individual market, with more than $12.6 million being sent to over 19,000 residents last year.

Highmark small groups, often small businesses, will receive nearly $3.9 million in cumulative return. 2,573 groups will receive an average rebate of $1,514, with 20 groups receiving rebates over $10,000. Employers can consider using these dollars to enhance benefits, reduce premiums for employees in future policy years, or provide refunds directly to group health plan participants.

Communications will be sent to policyholders in September and checks for both individual policyholders and small groups will be sent the week of September 15. Not every policyholder will receive a rebate. Those in the individual market with rebate questions can contact Highmark at 800-544-6679. Small group employers with rebate questions can contact their insurance producer, or Highmark at 800-241-5704.


$21.5 Million in Health Insurance Rebates for Individuals and Small Businesses

Thousands of Highmark 2019 plan participants and groups to receive checks

After announcing a reduction of Delaware Health Insurance Marketplace rates for the upcoming enrollment year, Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro has more good news for residents who purchase insurance on the Delaware Health Insurance Marketplace, those who purchase Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware plans outside of the exchange in the individual market, and for Highmark small group policyholders, announcing more than $21.5 million in rebates for 2019 participants.

“Now, more than ever, we need to make sure that every resident and small business can afford the health insurance they need for their families and employees. These rebates, combined with the ACA health insurance rate reduction for the coming year, do just that,” said Commissioner Navarro. “This is just one of many ways we are working to reduce the cost-of-care our residents experience in the health care system.

For the first time in the history of Delaware’s individual health insurance market, more than $12.6 million will be returned to 19,273 policyholders, with the average rebate being $656. Highmark small groups, often small businesses, will receive more than $8.8 million in cumulative return. 2,779 groups will receive an average rebate of $3,198, with more than 175 groups receiving rebates over $10,000. Employers can consider using these dollars to enhance benefits, reduce premiums for employees in future policy years or provide refunds directly to group health plan participants.

Communications will be sent to policyholders in September and checks for both individual policyholders and small groups will be sent the week of September 21. Those in the individual market with rebate questions can contact Highmark at 800-544-6679. Small group employers with rebate questions can contact their insurance producer, or Highmark at 800-241-5704.

These rebates are required by the Delaware Department of Insurance according to Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) measurements set by the Affordable Care Act, which are meant to ensure that insurers are spending a majority of premiums on health claims and clinical services, not taking those dollars for profit or administrative expenses. The rebate system creates balance when data shows that this ratio was off in a previous year. Not every policy will receive a rebate. MLR review for the 2020 plan year will shine a light on changes in insurance usage due to COVID-19 and will be released in 2021.

On August 31, Commissioner Navarro announced the Delaware Health Insurance Marketplace would see an average decrease in rates of 1% for individual plans. Highmark small group plans will see an average premium decrease of 3%.