The Spring 2016 round of the Arizona Innovation Challenge (AIC) has concluded as the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) announced the six awardees in its bi-annual business plan competition on Tuesday.

The ACA provides $3 million in grants annually – $1.5 million in the spring and $1.5 million in the fall – to the most qualified, innovative startups and early-stage companies.

Up to $250,000 is granted to each recipient to commercialize their technologies and grow their businesses. Grant money is provided only as each company reaches specific business milestones during a 12-month period. Companies located anywhere in the world may apply, as long as they plan to establish operations and commercialize their product or service in Arizona if they are awarded an AIC grant.

“It is exciting to see Arizona’s entrepreneurial ecosystem continue to grow and produce impressive startup companies, and the ACA is proud to support them,” said Sandra Watson, Arizona Commerce Authority president and CEO. “Our rigorous selection process ensures that the best and brightest startups thrive in Arizona – and their success continues to showcase Arizona as a leader in innovation. Congratulations to all of the Spring 2016 awardees, your success is well-deserved!”

The six Spring 2016 AIC awardees are as follows:

Allbound IT – Software SaaS-based platform for managing sales channel partnerships. Phoenix, AZ
AniCellBioTech Bio & Life Sciences Bio and life sciences company that treats companion animals using regenerative medicine. Chandler, AZ
Clean Router IT – Software Software company that has created an internet filtering solution for routers. Gilbert, AZ
MWI Aerospace/Defense Aerospace and defense company dedicated to non-destructive materials testing. Tempe, AZ
SalutarisMedical Devices Bio & Life Sciences Bio and life sciences company that treats vision loss. Tucson, AZ
SMART Brain Aging Bio & Life Sciences Bio and life sciences company focused on the treatment of dementia. Phoenix, AZ

A panel of expert judges evaluated 97 applications for the Spring 2016 AIC round from companies currently located in Arizona, California, Colorado and Switzerland. The judges assessed each company application on a set of criteria including technology potential, marketing strategy, quality of management team and economic impact. In May 2016, a total of 10 finalists were named in this round.

Every applying company that meets the AIC’s eligibility requirements receives constructive feedback generated from the rigorous online evaluation and scoring process. All 25 semifinalists are considered for participation in Venture Ready, the ACA’s mentor program that connects early stage companies with high-level CEOs to further refine business plans and investor pitches.