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UM’s Wolverine Venture Fund Invests In Life Sciences Startup

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Wolverine Venture Fund
(credit: istock) Technology Report
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ANN ARBOR (WWJ) – The University of Michigan’s Wolverine Venture Fund announced it has invested in NeuMoDx Molecular Inc., an Ann Arbor based company developing a new platform for high-speed, low-cost molecular testing for medical diagnostics.

The fund is managed by students at The Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, part of UM’s Ross School of Business.

The $21 million Series B round of financing was led by New York City-based Pfizer Venture Investments and also included investments from Chicago-based Baird Capital, Madison, Wis.-based Venture Investors LLC and existing investor Arboretum Ventures of Ann Arbor.

The Wolverine Venture Fund also participated in NeuMoDx’ $5 million Series A financing round in 2012.

This financing will be used to fund development of the NeuMoDx 500 Molecular IVD System, a fully automated, random access platform capable of performing RNA and DNA-based assays. In addition to completing platform development, this funding will enable the company to pursue clinical trials and regulatory approvals for the system’s first assays.

Founded in 2012, NeuMoDx is led by founder and CEO Jeff Williams and president Sundy Brhamasandra. Previously, Williams was president and CEO of Accuri Cytometers, a life science instrument and clinical diagnostic company, from January 2010 until its sale to Becton, Dickinson & Co. (NYSE: BDX) for $205 million in March 2011. Brhamasandra’s background includes serving as president of Life Magnetics Inc., a spin-out from the University of Michigan developing a novel, non-microscope based platform for real-time monitoring of cell growth, death and other binding events. Both men also were managers at HandyLab Inc., a developer of molecular diagnostics that was also acquired by BD in November 2009 for more than $275 million. NeuMoDx now has 13 employees.

Faculty Managing Director, Prof. Erik Gordon, said the students performed professional-level follow-up due diligence on the technical and market adoption aspects of the investment, and concluded that it fit the Fund’s criteria for growth and return on investment. Gordon added, “The students as a group bring to the table broad array of expertise, including scientific, engineering, marketing, clinical and financial experience.”

The $5.5 million Wolverine Venture Fund was the country’s first student-led venture fund. Its student members seek, screen and negotiate investments and develop significant experience in these areas — and in working with VCs and entrepreneurs. Since its inception, the Wolverine Venture Fund has invested more than three dozen companies in a wide range of innovative industries such as information technology, life sciences and alternative energy. A team of students drove the investment in ArborMetrix, including sourcing the deal and conducting all necessary due diligence, negotiation and collaboration with other investors.

“Students from the Wolverine Venture Fund have been a valuable addition to the strategic investment team for NeuMoDx Molecular, and we are delighted they are part of our Series B,” stated Jeff Williams, Founder and CEO of NeuMoDx. “My experience working with the University of Michigan and the Wolverine Venture Fund goes beyond NeuMoDX. Like the student teams who participated in funding my prior company HandyLab, our current Wolverine Venture Fund team represents a broad cross-section of business expertise providing valuable perspective as we continue with development, clinical trials and approvals.”

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