Open Prairie Ventures, a leading venture capital firm providing equity to early-stage agricultural technology and medical device companies throughout the Midwest, Thursday announced the expansion of its operations to Kalamazoo. 

Open Prairie will be taking space within the Southwest Michigan First offices as the two firms work together to aggressively bring investment opportunities to Southwest Michigan.

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The move will formalize a partnership between the two entities that have worked together during the past five years to develop new companies such as Vestaron, a Kalamazoo-based agricultural company developing the next generation of insecticides for the environmentally conscious 21st century. 

Open Prairie is an early stage venture capital firm founded in 1999 and  headquartered in Effingham, Ill. with additional offices in Kansas. In September 2010, Open Prairie closed its second fund with $30 million of capital. 

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”Michigan has a vibrant ecosystem for early-stage investments in the focus sectors for Open Prairie and access to top-tier management talent,” said Jim Schultz, partner of Open Prairie Ventures. “We look forward to the expansion of our firm’s footprint in the region with the opening of our new office.  The ability to establish solid investment opportunities in the State led us toward the creation of a long-term presence in Michigan.”

Added Ron Kitchens, Southwest Michigan First CEO and general partner of the Southwest Michigan First Life Science Fund: “This partnership is a natural progression of Southwest Michigan First’s efforts to establish the necessary investment cycle for a sustainable innovation economy in Southwest Michigan. By creating the pool of capital necessary to bring high potential investment opportunities, we can increase deal flow and create new companies which in turn generate tech transfer.”

The Southwest Michigan First Life Science Fund is a $75 million limited partnership venture fund interested in early stage life sciences opportunities in Southwest Michigan that have demonstrably viable technologies and are committed to establishing a presence in the region. The fund’s primary goal is to spur economic development and retain intellectual capital within the area. More at

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More about Open Prairie at