Innovation Partnerships awarded $5M for statewide venture fund


The University of Michigan’s Innovation Partnerships recently was awarded $5 million by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to establish the Michigan University Innovation Capital Fund and the Michigan University Innovation Capital Consortium.

This new fund will solidify the state’s university research commercialization ecosystem through a collaborative partnership among U-M, Michigan State University, Michigan State University Research Foundation, Wayne State University, Western Michigan University and Michigan Technological University.

The MUICF will drive economic development statewide by supporting the growth of university startups from Michigan’s public universities.

“We are thrilled to receive this award from the MEDC to create and develop the Michigan University Innovation Capital Fund and Consortium,” said Kelly Sexton, associate vice president of research – innovation partnerships and economic impact.

“This new venture capital fund will provide critical, early-stage investments to university startups that are developing world-changing new products. I look forward to collaborating with university tech transfer offices across Michigan, as we continue to strengthen our state’s research commercialization ecosystem to unlock the transformative power of university innovation.”

The MUICF is designed to support and invest in startup companies that are based on research from Michigan’s public universities, operate in the state and demonstrate high potential for driving economic growth and innovation.

In addition to the new venture fund, the $5 million award will support the establishment of the Michigan University Innovation Capital Consortium, a platform that brings together university tech transfer offices and university managed pre-seed venture fund leaders.

The consortium will provide advisory and strategic support to the fund and portfolio companies through knowledge exchange, networking, resource sharing and fostering a collaborative environment where innovative ideas can support the state’s startups coming from Michigan’s public universities.

“Collaboration is essential if we want to accelerate innovation, and so I am incredibly excited to see how the Michigan University Innovation Capital Fund and Consortium will create synergies between academia, venture capital and industry, facilitating the flow of ideas, expertise and resources to help build a brighter future for our great state,” said Rebecca Cunningham, vice president for research and innovation.

“This collaborative approach with peer institutions statewide is vital to ensure that research activity emanating from across Michigan’s public universities not only addresses the challenges of today but contributes to the growth and prosperity of tomorrow.”

Initial members of the consortium include investors and tech transfer leaders from the MUICF partner universities. During the past six years, these universities have launched an average of 26 technology-based startups per year.

Michael Psarouthakis, executive director for impact investments and strategic alliances within Innovation Partnerships, will oversee the MUICF.

MUICF builds upon the commercialization success of five MEDC grant programs that operate statewide, including the Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization program that has hubs managed by U-M (life sciences and advanced transportation), Michigan State University (agricultural technologies and industrial biotechnology), Wayne State University (advanced computer technologies) and Michigan Technological University (advanced materials).

Additionally, the new fund builds off the success of the Tech Transfer Talent Network Mentor-in-Residence program operating throughout the state of Michigan.


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