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Mercy Education Project team, comprised of Highschool girls won funding for their pilot project Rock City Mobility Stations.

When the 11th grade girls of Mercy Education Project were asked about mobility in their neighborhood, Southwest Detroit, they identified two key concerns: Getting around safely and feeling isolated from the greater city. Because Detroit is so geographically large and lacks an all-encompassing and dynamic transportation and communication system, these young residents feel disconnected. Rock City Mobility Stations look at mobility through the eyes of youth who are not able to utilize a car, but still need to get around their city, while also contributing to a quality visitor, tourist and worker experience.

Click here to learn more about the Michigan Central Station challenge and all the winners.

Vic Havele, Manjiree Nikam, and Robert Shannon coached Mercy Education Project Team at TechTown in Detroit. Bill McPherson, David Rish, Vic Havele and Bob Shannon coached several other finalists.

As part of this challenge, Ford Mobility sought written proposals from around the country and selected twelve teams as finalists to revitalize Detroit’s oldest neighborhood-Corktown, around Michigan Central station. Ford requested New Enterprise Forum to help these finalists prepare 5-minute pitches to judges in order to win pilot funding for their mobility solutions, based on Ford’s evaluation criteria. The competition took place on Jan 23rd.  Finale Event was held in Detroit on January 30th.

Ripple Science announced in January that it has completed a $2.5M equity financing round, attracting more than $2M from a syndicate of out-of-state venture funds. The financing will be used to scale sales and marketing efforts, expanding the company’s commercial reach among private and public clinical research organizations.

Ripple Science Corp.'s funding round was led by Omaha-based Dundee Venture Capital, according to a report in Crain’s Detroit. Other participants include the Rise of the Rest seed fund, from AOL co-founder Steve Case's Washington, D.C.-based Revolution Ventures; Houston-based Mercury Fund; Denver-based SpringTime Ventures; Chicago-based M25; and Red Cedar Ventures in East Lansing. Previous investors also returned to contribute to the cloud-based software company's new financing: Invest Detroit Ventures, Invest Michigan and the University of Michigan's Michigan Investment in New Technology Startups initiative, according to a news release. Before this, Ripple had raised $2.5 million since its founding in 2016.

CEO Peter Falzon told Crain’s that Ripple wouldn't have grown without the funding ecosystem in metro Detroit and Michigan. He cited groups including Invest Detroit Ventures and Invest Michigan, and "efforts being made to create the startup environment by setting up these sources of capital for early stage companies."

Ripple Science Founder Nestor Lopez-Duran, an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Michigan, was coached by a NEF team and was the Showcase presenter at the New Enterprise Forum in November 2016. More recently, CEO Peter Falzon was coached by NEF members as he prepared to pitch to a local angel group. 

Ripple is a HIPAA compliant, SaaS platform that saves researchers time by effectively managing all levels of participant recruitment and retention for clinical trials. Ripple provides real-time analytics to track progress and mitigate risks and empowers research and clinical trial teams through data-driven insights and a centralized communication platform. With Ripple, researchers are automatically building their own participant registries which can be shared and leveraged for future trials.

 

Throughout the fall semester of 2019, several New Enterprise Forum members headed to the Ross School of Business every Wednesday evening to volunteer as mentors in an innovative educational experience called "Financing Technology Commercialization: A Venture Capital Practicum". The course paired up nineteen student teams with nineteen entrepreneurs who are seeking investment in their startup companies. With guidance from their assigned mentors the students developed value propositions, business plans and pitch decks for the startups. The climax of the course came in mid-December when the students took turns making their investment pitches to a panel of judges with deep experience in venture capital investing. In addition to providing an unusual 'real-life' educational experience for the students, the course helped the entrepreneurs fine tune their business plans and gain connections in the investment community.

The course was conceived by David J. Brophy, one of the leaders of the Zell Lurie Institute at the Ross School of Business. Professor Brophy joined the finance faculty at the University of Michigan in 1968 and has served since 1992 as Director of the Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity Finance, where he assists emerging and mid-size companies.

A number of New Enterprise Forum members have been involved in the development of the course over the last several years. One of Brophy's key staff members for the course was Stewart Nelson, Past President and long time Board Member of the New Enterprise Forum. With fellow NEF Board Member Gary Hazen, Stew created the Entrepreneur’s Equity Roadmap, a crucial element of the course curriculum.  Current NEF members who volunteered as mentors this year included Francis Glorie, Matt Hulbert, Vic Havele, Paul Henchey, Ravi Nigam and Stefan Sysko.

 

U-M Tech Transfer, the unit responsible for commercializing University of Michigan research discoveries and innovations, will create the Accelerate Blue Fund to provide seed capital to nascent U-M startup companies. The nonprofit, philanthropic fund will be initially funded with $250,000 in donations secured for this purpose. A fundraising effort is being launched with a goal of at least $20 million in additional gifts. The fund will begin accepting startup investment applications after it has raised $2 million.

The new fund fills a gap for seed capital for startups whose products have early market validation, a strong value proposition, a feasible commercial path, at least one founder focused on the venture, and a good chance at follow-on funding or exit within two years of securing seed capital.

The Accelerate Blue Fund will be supervised by a fund manager and guided by an investment advisory board. The board will be chaired by Chris Rizik, a Law School alumnus and CEO of Renaissance Venture Capital. “It’s wonderful to see U-M bring additional investment capital into our ecosystem,” Rizik said. “It is addressing a critical need.”

For more details see The University RECORD.

 

Crain's Detroit Business reported that Venture Investors LLC has closed on its latest fund, the $75 million Venture Investors Health Fund VI LP. Crain's quotes Jim Adox as saying "In our prior funds, we invested in a mix of health care and technology. For this fund, we made the decision to go 100 percent to health care." Jim Adox is based in Ann Arbor and will be the executive managing director of the fund. The article goes on to explore the recent history of Southeast Michigan's strength in health care venture investing.

The New Enterprise Forum has also seen a surge in healthcare-focused startups in recent years. Several founders of healthcare startups have benefited from NEF coaching. Showcase presenters with healthcare solutions have included InheRET, Genomenon, Workit Health, Spellbound, Advaita, eScapes Network, Smile Bond, Pathware (MedKairos), EagleView Imaging, and Carrot Pass. Several of these companies have gone on to successful fund raising rounds while others are still in the process of pitching to potential investors.

Valerie Obenchain, founder of Advanced Interactive Response Systems (AIRS), was notified in August by officials in Australia that she had been granted a patent for the company's main product, an oxygen flow monitor for those using oxygen tanks. News of this latest milestone for the Michigan-based company was covered in an article in Crain's Detroit Business. The company already has patents in the US and is anticipating FDA approval in the near future. Obenchain has previously raised over one half million from investors and is now pursuing a Series A funding round.

Valerie Obenchain was the Showcase presenter at the New Enterprise Forum in November 2014. Obenchain, a registered respiratory therapist, said at the time that "NEF set me up with an amazing coaching team that helped with AIRS' presentation. They gave me guidance on how to tell the story about why AIRS was started."

CEO Kim Gamez and Mi Padrino were the subject of a enthusiastic article published online by Forbes Magazine on September 4, 2019. Entitled "Diverse Cultural Celebrations Are A Huge Market Opportunity", the article by Geri Stengel relates the origin story of the Ann Arbor-based startup and describes how the company to has grown to serve 500,000 users with the help of $1.5M capital raise.

Kim Gamez was the Showcase presenter at New Enterprise Forum in July 2017. Mi Padrino® is an event planning service to help parents and families organize, plan, and fund events celebrated in the Hispanic tradition, including Quinceañeras.

Ann Arbor-based Genomenon has won a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). Funding from the grant, valued at $152,946, will go toward creating a platform for producing and sharing “micropublications” across the genomics research community, as well as continuing Genomenon’s efforts to automate variant interpretation based on data from published studies. The news was covered in Clinical OMICS .

“This grant allows us to build on the work from our last successful NIH funding to increase the automation of variant interpretation and allow users to rapidly share their findings across the scientific community.” said Genomenon’s Co-founder and CSO, Dr. Mark Kiel in statement on the company's website. “This automated micropublication platform will help accelerate the sharing of knowledge as more and more genomic research is being published every year.

Genomenon's CEO Mike Klein was the Showcase presenter at New Enterprise Forum in June 2017. Earlier this year, Genomenon announced that it had completed a $2.5M equity financing round. Investors in that round included IrishAngels, H. W. Kaufman Group, and all of Genomenon’s earlier investors.

Team posters, banners and other Michigan basketball memorabilia provide a colorful theme for the decor of Anne Perigo's office at the Ross School of Business. It is perhaps not too surprising that an Ann Arbor native who graduated from Pioneer High and has a BBA from the University would be an enthusiastic fan of the hoops team and of both departing coach Beilein and incoming coach Howard.

As Associate Director of the Zell Lurie Institute, Perigo is responsible for several non-curricular programs at the business school that promote entrepreneurial activity among students, including the Michigan Business Challenge and the Michigan Investment Challenge. "I love my job," Perigo says, citing her "great satisfaction in working with students, helping them to learn and to achieve their goals."

Perigo also serves on the board of the New Enterprise Forum, acting as a key liaison between the Institute and the non-profit group, finding opportunities for synergy between two organizations focused on promoting entrepreneurship. Perigo credits the NEF with helping to "build an entrepreneurial community" through its events and programs. As a naturally curious person, she enjoys participating in NEF coaching sessions where she often learns new things from the local entrepreneurs and from the other coaches.

Perigo's Ann Arbor connections run deep. Early in her career, she was responsible for commercial lending at a regional bank, supporting growing businesses in the area. Perigo and her husband have four children, all of whom attended Ann Arbor Public Schools, and also care for several pets.

Four startup founders gave fascinating presentations at the July edition of New Enterprise Forum but is was Raeanna Lewarne of HealthFreelance.com who took home the prize. Judges praised her very thorough and confident presentation of her business plan for a website that connects medical and non-medical healthcare professionals with hospitals and other employers for contract work.

The judging panel included Kim Brown of Duo Security, Ashwin Puri of Invest Detroit Ventures, and Paul Riser Jr. of Techtown Detroit.

The enthusiastic audience gathered at Ann Arbor Spark on Thursday evening opened up their wallets and tossed over $300 into the prize money bucket.

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