Michigan Growth Capital Symposium Fosters University-Based Startups

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A unique concentration of world-class research universities has helped the Midwest become an attractive geography for early-stage companies and funders alike, and the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium plays a key role in trumpeting these capabilities and successes of the Midwest.

Taking place May 10-11 at the Marriott Resort in Ypsilanti, the event will feature 44 companies presenting for an audience of venture capitalists, angel investors and institutional investors, with the first day dedicated to those seeking angel and seed funding and the second focused on companies seeking follow-on rounds.

The symposium has been instrumental in bringing greater awareness and opportunity to startups emerging from research departments at leading universities across the country. In the past decade, over 300 companies have presented at the Symposium. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of all presenting companies were university-based spinouts representing leading research universities within the state of Michigan and the greater Midwest, including Carnegie Mellon, Purdue, Case Western Reserve University, Indiana University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois and University of Wisconsin-Madison. Some 70 percent of all of the university-based spinouts that have presented at the Symposium were drawn from members of the state of Michigan’s University Research Corridor, comprised of Michigan State University, he University of Michigan and Wayne State University. More than half — 54 percent — hailed from the University of Michigan

“The private and public sectors have to work together in order for Michigan to reach its full potential,” said David Brophy, symposium founder and UM professor. “The symposium brings these two groups together in a way that truly can move research forward and has proven itself as a primary way U of M spinouts can create business development opportunities without having to look beyond state borders.”

Keeping with the symposium’s spirit of fostering extraordinary innovation and investment opportunities in the Midwest, several university spinouts that have presented at the symposium have gone on to realize notable success. These include 2001 and 2006 presenter HealthMedia Inc., an Ann Arbor-based provider of web-based digital health coaching programs that was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 2008, and four-time (2001; 2003-2005) presenter HandyLab, an Ann-Arbor-based developer and manufacturer of molecular diagnostic products that was acquired by Becton, Dickinson and Co. in 2009.

“The willingness we’ve seen by UM President Mary Sue Coleman, Tom Kinnear, Ken Nisbet of the Office of Technology Transfer and others to encourage and promote technology moving from the university into the community can have a major economic benefit,” said Jeff Williams, former CEO of HandyLab and current CEO of Accuri Cytometers. “But we need a whole bunch of little companies.”

The symposium is hosted by the Ross School of Business’ Zell Lurie Institute at the University of Michigan with support from the Michigan Venture Capital Association. Visit www.michigangcs.com for updates to the program or to register to attend.

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