Three Ann Arbor-based tech companies headed to SXSW Pitch in Austin

Companies are clients of Ann Arbor SPARK

By Meredith Bruckner - Community News Producer

SXSW Pitch 2017 (Credit: SXSW)

ANN ARBOR - Here's some big news for three Ann Arbor startups Derq, MySideKick and Pathware.

The three were selected as finalists this year in the 11th annual SWSW Pitch, which will take place on Saturday and Sunday, March 9 and 10, in Austin, Texas.

Fifty interactive technology companies will be featured at the event, and will be competing in front of a live audience and a panel of judges in 10 different categories.

All three companies are clients of Ann Arbor SPARK, a nonprofit that specializes in business acceleration in downtown Ann Arbor.

"Having three Michigan companies participating in such a prestigious event really speaks to the quality of our region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem," Bill Mayer, vice president of entrepreneurial services at SPARK said in a statement. "For all three to have a presence in Ann Arbor and be SPARK clients is further evidence that this quintessential college town is generating startups on par with other premier tech hubs in the world."

Derq, MySideKick and Pathware were chosen among 800 companies that applied to present.

Each year, leading global startups gather to showcase their impressive technological innovations at the marquee event of the South by Southwest Conference & Festivals Entrepreneurship & Startup track. 

About the companies

Derq will be competing in the Artificial Intelligence category. A Techstars Mobility alum and MIT spin-off, the company employs patented and award-winning AI to develop software that makes roads safer by eliminating crashes. Derq has a longstanding relationship with SPARK, having participated in the Entrepreneur in Residence program and having received the grants from SPARK Business Accelerator.

"Since coming to Michigan, Derq has really benefited from improved access to customers, talent, and partners here in the state," Will Foss, Derq’s director of business development and partnerships, said in a statement. "One thing that really stands out about SPARK and Michigan is the focus on building a mobility ecosystem and connecting the major participants across the state."

MySideKick will be competing in the Social and Culture category. The first product from Every Two Minutes, its founders developed a web-based application with a mobile interface for college students to address issues of sexual violence.

Every Two Minutes graduated from Ann Arbor SPARK'S Entrepreneurial Boot Camp in spring 2018.

Pathware will be competing in the Health and Wearable category. According to Ann Arbor SPARK, Pathware's "whole slide imaging and cloud-based management system, Bioptic, simplifies digital pathology workflows by rapidly Pathware logoverifying if a viable biopsy was collected with over 96 percent certainty."

Pathware has received grants from the SPARK Business Accelerator to aid with patent registration and intellectual property management.

For more information about the SXSW Pitch event and learn more about the finalists, visit

About SXSW

SXSW dedicates itself to helping creative people achieve their goals. Founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas, SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film and music industries. The event, an essential destination for global professionals, features sessions, showcases, screenings, exhibitions and a variety of networking opportunities. SXSW proves that the most unexpected discoveries happen when diverse topics and people come together. SXSW 2019 will take place March 8-17.

About Ann Arbor SPARK

Ann Arbor SPARK, a nonprofit organization, is advancing the region by encouraging and supporting business acceleration, attraction and retention. The organization identifies and meets the needs of business at every stage, from startups to large organizations. Ann Arbor SPARK collaborates with business, academic, government and community investor partners. For more information, please call 734-761-9317 or visit

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