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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 sec
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 h
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 Ente
Invest Detroit Ventures (ID Ventures) recently announced that it has received significant philanthropic support to begin the effort to turn its First Capital Fund into a sustainable, evergreen fund that will support early-stage Michigan startups for years to come. With $3 million from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, $2.5 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), and $11 million in assets funded to date, ID Ventures kicks off a fund-raising effort to pool enough philanthropic support to create a sustainable source of early capital for Michigan’s diverse, under-represented entrepreneurs and technology start-ups committed to bolstering the local economy.
Patti Glaza, an NEF Board Member and senior vice president and managing director at Invest Detroit Venture
After more than thirty years in a very successful career as an ad man and business executive, David Maas is giving back. This Michigan native, car fanatic, and Wolverine fan now makes time to volunteer with the New Enterprise Forum and other organizations to help foster entrepreneurship in the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas. After hearing about the business coaching organization from several colleagues, David started attending NEF meetings in 2018 and found himself in easy conversation with a welcoming group of interesting people. Over the past several months he has thrown himself into NEF’s signature coaching process, working with a team of volunteer coaches to help a local entrepreneur refine his investor pitch. “I like the well-defined process,” explains David, “
Advaita Bioinformatics, provider of the industry-leading gene expression and genomic variation analysis platform, recently announced a new partnership with Millennium Science for distribution of Advaita’s software to research institutions and pharma companies across Australia and New Zealand. Millennium Science is replacing Qiagen’s Ingenuity products with iPathwayGuide and iVariantGuide products for all pathway and variant analysis. The deal is a three-year commitment. Millennium Science is converting its current clients to Advaita products and selling new cloud-based subscriptions to new customers immediately. For more information visit Advaita’s website.
Spellbound Founder and CEO Christina York says, “You are never done working on your pitch.” York was a Showcase Presenter at the May 2017 New Enterprise Forum and has been pitching practically every day since then.
In a video recently distributed by the Michigan Economic Development Council, the NEF alum shares this takeaway and other advice for startup entrepreneurs. York’s other tips address maximizing the use of local and state resources in the early stages of company growth, and avoiding pitfalls related to company culture.
For more tips, read the article on the MEDC website.
Ann Arbor SPARK recently recognized Groundspeed Analytics as its 2019 Entrepreneurial Services Company of the Year Award Winner. This was just the latest of many awards for this fast growing startup. Just a year ago, the New Enterprise Forum presented Groundspeed Founder and Co-CEO Jeff Mason with its 2017 NEF Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Formed in early 2016, this innovative InsurTech company utilizes machine learning to transform unstructured commercial insurance documents into actionable intelligence. By making the process more accurate and efficient, insurance carriers and brokers now have a game-changing tool to advance their information advantage.
A communal breakfast of waffles and bacon to kickoff casual Friday is just one of the many pluses of the new co-working space where April Davis now operates her Breakout Marketing Group, a consulting firm she founded 20 years ago. April enjoys the opportunities to chat with other professionals in the office while she works hard on developing her own marketing services business, focused on optimizing social media and customer engagement. Recently she treated a visitor to a fine cup of cold brew coffee while seated at her desk overlooking the Briarwood neighborhood in Ann Arbor.
In 2013, when Sean Li left his home in Beijing to go abroad for the first time, he chose to enroll in the University of Michigan to study Statistics and Business, recognizing the world class educational resources here. In 2017, when TusStar, one of the largest providers of incubation services in China, wanted to establish a U.S. presence, it chose Ann Arbor as its first location because it recognized the “vast potential of the startup ecosystem here.” Today, Sean Li is Manager of TusStar’s Ann Arbor office, working under Frank Ni, President, at their Green Road location.
Jeff Mason, Founder and Co-CEO of Groundspeed and former NEF client
Groundspeed has been recognized as the 2019 “SmartZone Best Small Business” of the year, an awards program presented by Michigan Celebrates Small Business. Groundspeed will be honored at an awards ceremony during the fifteenth annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business gala event, May 8, 2019 in Lansing, Mich.
Read more on the Groundspeed website.
Coffee is important and David Whitinger likes to brag that Office Evolution has some of the best in town. As co-owner of the new office space for entrepreneurs that opened in Ann Arbor in late 2018, David is eager to show off the attractively furnished facility and offered a welcome cup of coffee to a visitor who stepped in from the frozen February air. Like other franchise locations around the country, the Office Evolution space on Eisenhower Parkway combines several private offices with shared areas such as conference rooms, reception desk, and kitchen.
David joined the New Enterprise Forum as a stakeholder in 2018 while he was launching his new business. At NEF events he found the other members were accomplished and successful in their fields but were at the same time very ap