Mercer Innovation Center Announces Four New Fellows, Five Companies-in-Residence to Operate in Macon


MACON – Mercer Innovation Center (MIC) today announced its second class of fellows – four new businesses that will launch with funding and support from the MIC – in addition to five companies-in-residence that will be provided office space and additional resources by the Center.

All told, from this year's fellowship competition, nine new companies will base operations in Macon, with three relocating from Atlanta.

The annual Mercer Innovation Fellowships are open to entrepreneurs, 21 and older, from across the world, in addition to current Mercer students. Fellows receive a prize package that may include up to $20,000 in funding, housing and parking on Mercer's campus, office space and MIC membership for a year, paid student interns, access to Mercer facilities, access to local investors, and coaching and mentoring by the Center's advisory board.

After offering fellowships to two businesses – KUDU Safari Braai and HeadNoise – in its inaugural year, the MIC doubled its number of fellows this year by inviting four companies – Hygeia, MedaSol, Ultimental and 43 Tech – to compose its second class.

“We are excited about the increased number of fellows and businesses choosing Macon as the place to launch and grow their companies,” said Stephanie Howard, deputy director of the Mercer Innovation Center. “One of the goals of the Mercer Innovation Center is to help entrepreneurs launch sustainable businesses, which ultimately impacts the Macon-Bibb County economy.”

Fellowships for Hygeia and MedaSol also include funding from a Downtown Challenge Grant awarded by the Community Foundation of Central Georgia to support early-stage medical device and health information technology initiatives.

Hygeia, founded by Ricardo Ibarria, is a reimagined healthcare delivery system, designed with both patients and clinicians in mind. Its all-in-one, turn-key employer kiosk provides customized diagnostics in an onsite machine.

MedaSol, founded by Dr. Kevin Murnane, assistant professor in Mercer's College of Pharmacy in Atlanta, is a personalized mobile app designed to improve medication adherence in patients at risk of heart failure or heart attack. The app can also be tailored to other patient populations and disease states.

Ultimental, founded by recent Mercer graduate Mike Masielle, is a natural, performance-enhancing supplement for white-collar, startup entrepreneurs that combines a green tea mix with natural sweeteners and eight active work-life performance enhancers, called nootropics.

43 Tech, founded by two-time Mercer graduate Michael Walter, strives to produce affordable and innovative technology solutions for everyday life. The company's KiwiCard is a credit card-sized Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) tracking device designed specifically for wallets.

Five additional Mercer Innovation Fellowship applicants were selected as companies-in-residence and will receive support from the MIC, such as office space and interns. They include data analytics software developer IUVO, founded by Stephen Hatez; marketing services agency AlyMedia, founded by Faiz Aly; natural hygiene products company The Bee's Knees, founded by Julia Nazerian; crowdsourced student notes platform Study Share, founded by Ricky Vega; and makeup brand Amaka, founded by Iijeoma Mbaezue.

Howard also announced that the MIC will bring the national, nine-week, cohort-based CO.STARTERS program to Central Georgia. The program aims to equip aspiring entrepreneurs with the insights, relationships and tools they need to turn ideas into action and turn a passion into a sustainable and thriving endeavor.

“Bringing the CO.STARTERS program to the Mercer Innovation Center will be a great addition and will support the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Macon-Bibb,” added Howard. “We hope that the community will join us in the first cohort and take the first steps to starting a business.”

CO.STARTERS, which costs $199 to attend, is open to community members and will begin in September. For more information, contact Howard at

About the Mercer Innovation Center

The Mercer Innovation Center is an effort by Mercer University, along with community partners such as the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority, Birch Communications, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Dr. Hugh F. Smisson III, to advance a culture of innovation and develop a thriving community of entrepreneurs, with a focus on utilizing technology to foster economic growth, create 21st century jobs and attract and retain talent. The Center is an institutional effort – led by the Stetson School of Business and Economics – that crosses academic disciplines and geographic boundaries to draw from all of the University's colleges, schools, departments and operating units. Community memberships are available, as the Center's activities and resources are intended to be available to Mercer students and non-students alike. For more information, visit