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MEDC Matches $2.76M In Venture Capital For Six Tech Firms

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LANSING – The Michigan Economic Development Corp. Wednesday announced Michigan Strategic Fund investments of $2.76 million into six growing technology companies through the Pure Michigan Venture Match Fund.

Gov. Rick Snyder said of the investments in a statement: “We are confident that by co-investing in these companies, all of which have secured private investments, we are bridging a capital gap and helping entrepreneurs develop promising technologies to grow into new innovation companies.”

In April 2012 the Pure Michigan Venture Match Fund opened for applications from Michigan companies that have secured an equity investment commitment led by a qualified venture fund. The program uses a market-driven approach to co-invest alongside qualified venture capital firms in early stage technology companies that are based in Michigan. While only companies based in Michigan are eligible to apply, the program can match investments from both in-state and out-of-state venture funds.

From the total of $5 million that was initially available for this round of funding, the MSF has approved $2,762,500 in matching investment dollars into six companies: Amplifinity, Gema Diagnostics, Livio Radio, nanoRETE, Stik and Tissue Regeneration Systems. The MSF matching funds leverage $7,275,000 in private investment dollars.

“One of these companies, Stik, just announced it has closed a $2.3 million Series A financing round, and we’re excited to be a part of this round of investment with Stik,” said MEDC President and CEO Michael A. Finney. “This is a perfect example of why we are willing to co-invest through our Pure Michigan Venture Match Fund alongside venture capital funds in our promising companies.”

Stik, a Detroit-based local review Web site for professional services, made its fundraising announcement on the heels of the company’s move from San Francisco to downtown Detroit’s emerging tech hub.

Stik will use the latest round of funding to add some key hires to its team, which has more than doubled in the past six months. MEDC highlighted Stik in its recent national business advertising campaign (“What happens when left coast meets right fit”).

The remaining Pure Michigan Venture Match funds will be awarded to eligible companies as long as funds are available. Companies are only allowed to apply for MSF funding once they have secured a qualified venture-led investment.

The program requires an independent peer review of the company and its investors in the application process, and a $1,000 application fee is due once the review confirms that the application meets the required minimum guidelines. The minimum venture-led investment that will be considered is $700,000 and the maximum is no more than $3 million. The co-investment from the MSF is no less than $350,000 and no more than $500,000, with similar investment terms as the venture-led commitment.

The complete guidelines for the PMVM Fund can be found at http://www.michiganadvantage.org/Pure-Michigan-Venture-Match-Fund/.

Any questions from potential applicants regarding this program or the application process must be submitted to PMVMF@michigan.org.

Her’s a look at the venture match companies:

* Amplifinity (Ann Arbor) – Amplifinity is developing social media marketing technology. Its Advocacy Management Platform (AMP) is used by companies to generate social behavior by mobilizing customers, employees and third parties to refer new customers, endorse products, and amplify marketing messages. With AMP, brands are able to acquire customers at a fraction of the cost of traditional channels, thereby increasing revenue, retention, and profitability. More at www.amplifinity.com.

* Gema Diagnostics (Ann Arbor) – Gema develops non-invasive products to dramatically improve in vitro fertilization outcomes. The Company’s flagship product, the GemARTvia test, will enable clinicians to determine which embryos have the best chance of becoming a baby. Gema technology emerged from pioneering research conducted at the Michigan State University Cellular Reprogramming Laboratory, the Yale University School of Medicine, and the Oxford University Institute of Reproductive Sciences under the leadership of Jose Cibelli and Dagan Wells, two leading scientists in reproductive technologies. For more information, visit www.gemadx.com

* Livio Radio (Ferndale) – Livio has developed technology to get smarphone applications into automotive factory audio systems with Livio Connect, a middleware API that acts as a common language between applications and hardware so they can communicate securely. Additionally, as soon as consumers roll off the lot with new cars, the car stereo will continually receive new updates and apps as they come out thanks to Livio’s firmware over the air transfers (FOTA) technology, available in Livio Connected hardware. Most recently, the company announced getting TuneIn into the 2013 Chevy Spark using Livio Connect. More information can be found at www.LivioConnect.com and www.LivioRadio.com

* NanoRETE (Lansing) – NanoRETE Inc. is an early stage company that is developing technologies to provide real-time detection of pathogens and toxins using customized, proprietary nanoparticle based biosensors. The company is developing products that can test for single or multiple pathogens and toxins using a simple-to-use device that can generate rapid screening results at a low cost. Initial applications of the technology are targeted toward food safety in the food industry, military and homeland security. NanoRETE’s technology base is the result of research conducted at Michigan State University and the company has acquired an exclusive license to an extensive patent portfolio for worldwide commercialization. For more information, visit www.nanorete.com.

* Stik (Detroit) – Stik.com is using Facebook to bring word-of-mouth recommendations for local professional businesses online. Stik helps small businesses build their reputation and helps consumers discover small businesses recommended by their friends. The co-founders of the company, Nathan Labenz and Jay Gierak, are originally from Detroit and met shortly before attending Harvard together. Originally founded in San Francisco and funded by Silicon Valley investors, the company returned home in 2012 to the M@dison Building in downtown Detroit to be a part of the city and state’s technical renaissance. More at www.stik.com.

* Tissue Regeneration Systems (Ann Arbor) – Tissue Regeneration Systems is a start-up medical device company commercializing a breakthrough skeletal reconstruction and bone regeneration technology platform licensed from the Universities of Michigan and Wisconsin. Its technology has been evaluated in several large animal studies with very promising long term results. The company has conceptualized initial product offerings, completed all required bench and animal testing, and filed its first regulatory submissions to the FDA.  Approval of these submissions will allow TRS to commercialize products in the United States, and the company expects to begin generating meaningful revenues in the next two to three years. More at www.tissuesys.com.

The MEDC markets the state with a focus on business, talent, jobs and helping to grow the economy. For more on MEDC and its initiatives, visit www.MichiganAdvantage.org.

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