State Creates Second ‘Pre-Seed’ Investment Fund

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LANSING (WWJ) – There will soon be another $6.8 million available to help get very early-stage Michigan companies off the ground.

State officials Thursday announced a designation of $6.8 million for Michigan Pre-Seed Fund 2.0, a statewide investment fund aimed at supporting high-tech early stage companies.

The fund will be managed by Invest Michigan, a Michigan nonprofit corporation based in Detroit. Charlie Moret, who ran Connecticut’s Pre-Seed Fund, CTech and TechStart before joining TechTown Detroit in 2012, recently left TechTown to start Invest Michigan, where he serves as president and CEO.

The $6.8 million for the fund comes from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the state’s lead advocate for economic growth. Paula Sorrell, MEDC vice president of Entrepreneurship & Innovation, will participate on the Invest Michigan board as an observer. As it has done with its other tech-targeted funding programs, the MEDC wants to attract at least $8 in private investment for every MSF dollar invested.

“These pre-seed funds are intended to help innovative companies take those last steps to become commercially viable and more attractive to private investors,” Sorrell said. “With the wealth of entrepreneurial talent we have in Michigan, we want to make sure good ideas turn into businesses that help expand and strengthen the state economy.”

In addition to Moret, Invest Michigan board members include:
* Mark J. Bennett, founder and president of MJBennett PLLC and an attorney and entrepreneur who has started five companies;
* Martin Dober, vice president for business acceleration at Invest Detroit and former MEDC senior vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation;
* Marianne Fey, an advertising executive who started up and then sold her firm to McCann Erickson and is a member of Michigan Angel Investors; and
* David Gregorka, venture partner at Baird Capital in Ann Arbor and adviser to seven research universities in Michigan working to expand their tech transfer talent networks.

The Michigan Pre-Seed Fund 2.0 will have $5.8 million to invest into high-tech start-up companies and $1 million dedicated to the University Commercialization Fund to help universities transfer technology to the marketplace.

State foficials say the fund will work closely with the Michigan SmartZone Network of business incubators and accelerators.

Companies are eligible to apply for the pre-seed funds if they are developing technologies in advanced automotive, manufacturing and materials, agricultural technology, alternative energy, homeland security and defense, information technology, life sciences and other innovative technologies.

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