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Ann Arbor Spark Gets $1M for Washtenaw County Incubator Collaboration

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The Spark Central incubator and meeting space in downtown Ann Arbor.

The Spark Central incubator and meeting space in downtown Ann Arbor.

ANN ARBOR — Ann Arbor Spark, the economic development organization for Washtenaw County, said Thursday it had been awarded $1 million from the Michigan Strategic Fund to support its business incubator activities via the creation of the new Washtenaw County Incubator Collaborative. 

The Michigan Strategic Fund award is designed to stimulate the creation and continued growth of technology-based businesses and jobs.

Ann Arbor Spark, in partnership with the MC3 Business Accelerator and the Michigan Research Institute, will use the funding to create the WCIC.  WCIC will be focused on the medical device and defense industries as well as other high growth industries in Washtenaw County. 

Paul Krutko, Ann Arbor Spark president and CEO, said the $1 million from the state will be matched by a $722,500 contribution from WCIS partners. He said the money would be used over two years to address two challenges to the Ann Arbor entrepreneurial ecosystem — how to increase collaboration between incubators and now to bridge funding gaps for businesses in tech-based, high-growth potential industries.

Said Krutko:  “This award enables Ann Arbor Spark and its WCIC partners to provide companies and entrepreneurs with access to critical services that catalyze revenue growth, job creation and new investment.”

WCIC will build on and leverage Spark’s existing support systems for emerging businesses in Washtenaw County.  Businesses will benefit from business incubation and wet lab space at MC3 and MRI, technical vetting and product prototyping, and assistance with obtaining funding for business acceleration. 

In addition to providing direct services to companies, WCIC will support the incubator infrastructure at Spark, MC3, and MRI, which serve high-tech businesses at a critical phase during start-up and development.

These business incubator services and infrastructure will be provided and managed by experienced staff from Ann Arbor SPARK, MC3 and MRI.  WCIC will also create 10 new jobs in various entrepreneurial support positions.

Funds for this initiative were provided by the 21st Century Jobs Fund, a Michigan Strategic Fund program designed to accelerate the growth and diversification of Michigan’s economy.  The Michigan Economic Development Corp., a public-private partnership between the state and local communities, provides administrative support for the 21st Century Jobs Fund.  The MEDC markets Michigan and provides the tools and environment to drive job creation and investment. For more information on the 21st Century Jobs Fund initiative, visit www.MichiganAdvantage.org.

Ann Arbor Spark, a non-profit organization, identifies and meets the needs of business at every stage, from start-ups to large organizations. Ann Arbor SPARK collaborates with business, academic, government, and community investor partners including the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Washtenaw Community College, Washtenaw County, Livingston County, Washtenaw County Michigan Works, the city of Ann Arbor, Bank of Ann Arbor and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. For more information, visit www.AnnArborUSA.org.

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