Joe Affholter of Michigan State Unversity and Michelle Larkin at the University of Michigan have essentially the same job: get academic research in the life sciences from the laboratory where it is discovered in Michigan’s half dozen largest research universities out to industry. Sounds simple, but it’s anything but. That’s because the MEDC’s Life Sciences MTRAC program is tasked with licensing technology invented in the academic system, mentoring new founders who often did not start in industry, and with helping companies get funded through clinical trials and the push out to the commercial market, which can take years to complete.
Denise Graves is the University Relations Director for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. She coordinates funding for a number of startup funds around the state, and she works closely with universities to get inventions out into industry. We’ve known the MEDC was supporting revitalizing the Michigan economy for years, but recently we ran into Graves at a university entrepreneurial event and realized we only ever get a partial picture of how startups can connect with the MEDC for business support services, and how all of this really works. We wanted to know more, and thought you might as well. Graves and her colleague, Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the MEDC Fred Molnar, explained to Cronicle the process they go through to help support new ventures in Michigan.
MVCA’s Executive Director Ara Topouzian Balances Economic Development with Award-Winning “Side Hobby” in Armenian Music
We met him at the TechCity Jam early this fall. The local jam session for tech workers who have music careers or hobbies on the side included everything from pop songs to electronica to incredible traditional Armenian music. We wanted to know who was playing in this award-winning band that came seemingly out of nowhere to the stage and played a brilliant set that would be inadequate to just call foot-tapping. Ara Topouzian, pictured right above, plays the qanun (kanoon), an Armenian 80-string harp that goes back to the 5th century and is still played today. The music sounds traditional, and yet it’s still extremely catchy.
As of 2019, Detroit now has 4 unicorns–Duo, Stockx, Rivian, and OneStream–tech companies valued at more than 1 billion dollars. Detroit is home to a growing number of startups that are slowly revolutionizing the city’s economy and the economy of the Midwest, which is attracting back talent from the coasts due to balanced work-life culture, affordable cost of living, and growing tech-related industries. It’s still a work in progress, but Michigan appears to have finally stemmed the tide of talent leaving for jobs elsewhere.
Evan Adams is the Capital Programs Manager at Detroit’s Build Institute, a Detroit-based incubator founded in 2012 that has already graduated more than 1800 entrepreneurs focused on community-impact ventures. The Build Institute runs several programs to mentor, house, and fund entrepreneurs, including SOUP and Kiva, which Adams manages to help startups of all kinds pitch for funds and find mentorship in Detroit.
BOAA Technology Industry Group President Michael Cole On The Tech Financing Process, Tech City Jam Friday
When new businesses start up, arranging financing can be fraught. When that process involves a bank loan, it’s hard to know where to go. Many banks have a reputation for turning away small or risky tech startup businesses. Good news for tech businesses in Ann Arbor and Southeast Michigan. Bank of Ann Arbor, which according to DBusiness is now the 4th largest bank in Metro Detroit, has created an entire division specifically for financing and guiding tech businesses in the growing startup hub. BOAA Technology Industry Group President Michael Cole says this has been a long time in process. Cole has been working for the past 17 years to create business financing options specifically tailored to tech and life sciences businesses in Southeast Michigan.
Every Time The Bell Rings, a Startup Gets Its Wings: Venture Accelerator’s Diane Bouis Talks Connecting New Ann Arbor Startups
In a maze of buildings on the University of Michigan’s North Campus in Ann Arbor, the Venture Accelerator, startup hub for intellectual property spun off by the Office of Tech Transfer from research and faculty at the University of Michigan, sits quietly on the block that used to be owned by Pfizer. Diane Bouis, Innovation Program Manager at the Venture Accelerator, helps these new ventures find resources and space in the many labs and offices housed in the building where the Venture Accelerator hosts new companies. The Venture Center, Accelerator, and Office of Tech Transfer work in close conjunction here to support baby startups in life sciences in particular to get out into the world.
Doug Neal has seen a lot change in the Ann Arbor and Midwest tech scene in the last few years. He is a managing director at eLab, a VC fund based in both Ann Arbor and Palo Alto in Silicon Valley that focuses on early stage AI and machine learning companies, the Internet of Things,…