UM Frankel Fund Firm, Ambiq Micro, Closes $2.4M Seed Round

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The Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business Tuesday announced that Ambiq Micro, a portfolio company of the Ross School of Business’ Frankel Commercialization Fund, has closed a $2.4 million round of seed funding.

The round was led by DFJ Mercury and syndicate investors include the Frankel Fund, ARM Limited, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Cisco Systems, Huron River Ventures and other private investors. The company, which provides the world’s most energy efficient microcontroller, will use the funding to expand its engineering, sales and marketing teams.

Ambiq Micro has strong roots at the Institute beyond the Frankel Fund. Two of the Fund’s alumni, Phillip O’Niel and David Landman (both 2010 UM MBAs), assisted co-founder Scott Hanson in forming the company and joined him to compete in the Institute’s Michigan Business Challenge in February, where they won the Pryor-Hale Award for Best Business. The Institute then mentored and sponsored the team at business plan competitions throughout the country where they honed their investment presentation skills and raised seed money for the company. Most notably, Ambiq was a finalist in the well-respected Rice University Business Plan Competition.

Further validating its unique technology and growth potential, Ambiq Micro was selected to present at the Institute-hosted Michigan Growth Capital Symposium in May — slots usually reserved for more mature venture-backed start-ups. The 2009-2010 academic year culminated with Ambiq winning a $250,000 prize in July from Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) and Cisco as part of their co-sponsored Global Business Plan Competition for university and business school students.

“The Frankel Fund was instrumental in getting our company off to a great start,” Hanson said. “Its funds and guidance helped us to organize the company, obtain our license from the University of Michigan and develop an early demonstration of our product prototype.  Having these tasks behind us then helped facilitate our first round of financing.”

The Frankel Commercialization Fund is the country’s first student-led pre-seed investment fund and was formed to help accelerate commercialization of technology and the formation of companies at the UM. The University of Michigan’s student-led venture capital funds, which also include the Wolverine Venture and Social Venture Funds, provide students with a rare opportunity to be part of the entire spectrum of the investment process, including deal sourcing and due diligence.

“The Frankel Fund’s investment in Ambiq is truly a great accomplishment for our students,” said Tom Porter, faculty director of the Frankel Fund. “They identified one of the great ideas at the University of Michigan and then helped to form the company by leading the business plan competition effort, to promote the company to investors, and assisting the Company in its formation and efforts to obtain its first round of financing.”

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