Genetic testing company signs on with Muskegon Innovation Hub

Tribune Newswire

MUSKEGON — The Muskegon Innovation Hub at Grand Valley State University has added a new client to its business incubator program.

The client is an innovative genetic testing company called GenPass, which uses advanced DNA testing to provide property and lake managers with a recommended treatment plan for getting rid of invasive water milfoil, a problematic aquatic invasive species.

The company gets samples from customers who know they have milfoil in a lake they own or manage, but don’t know if the plant is the native variety, an invasive variety, or a hybrid of the two. GenPass can sample that individual plant and use its DNA to tell which variety it is, and how it should be managed or removed. The analysis of the plants can help predict how likely treatments are to succeed and how aggressive the application of herbicides must be.

The company is owned by Syndell Parks, a former graduate student at Grand Valley’s Annis Water Resources Institute, where the technology was pioneered. Parks has licensed the proprietary testing methodology from the university.

“My background with this business and this project has always been from the science end of things,” Parks said. “The team at the Muskegon Innovation Hub has been instrumental in helping me think like a businessperson by reframing what I know into information that’s useful for building the business,” Parks said.

Other support from the business incubation team included finding funding and providing market research, along with individualized business recommendations.

The business incubation team has helped Parks keep the price of genetic testing reasonable with her proprietary testing methods. Customers who want a sample tested can get results for about $100 per test.

“The Muskegon Innovation Hub is great because the team here keeps things focused on the business and practical side of things, and they also bring a great science expertise to the conversation,” Parks said. “They’ve given me a lot of advice, and a very personalized experience.”

For more information on the Muskegon Innovation Hub and how to join the incubator program, visit
or contact Kevin Ricco at (616) 331-6901.


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