Michigan Strategic Fund Approves Extensions for Programs Supporting High-tech Michigan Start-up Companies and University Researchers

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Over $6 million awarded in funding extensions; greater access to funding, services and support for university researchers

LANSING, Mich. – October 23, 2018 – Targeting high-tech Michigan start-up companies and innovative technologies at the university level, the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF), administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), approved funding extensions and amended guidelines of programs designed to create greater access to support for technologies to reach the commercial market. This includes the creation of a Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) Statewide Innovation Hub for Advanced Computing Technologies, which will provide substantial economic growth opportunities for the state of Michigan.  

Funding and amended guidelines approved by MSF include:

  • Invest Michigan Pre-Seed II Fund ($3,000,000)
  • Technology Transfer Talent Network (T3N) ($1,175,000)
  • Michigan Corporate Relations Network (MCRN) ($1,310,000)
  • Addition of MTRAC Statewide Innovation Hub for Advanced Computing technologies
  • Converting the university match investment required for MTRAC Innovation Hub technologies to a tier structure

“To support the growth of high-tech startups and companies throughout the state, we have to go where the talent is, and the amendments to the MTRAC program, in tandem with continued investment in the T3N and MCRN programs, is how we can support the great talent we have at our universities, assisting them to get their research into the commercial market,” said Fred Molnar, vice president of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at MEDC. “The success of the Pre-Seed II Fund, through Invest Michigan’s leadership and expertise, is critical in terms of the return on investment it has generated from the companies it has supported.”

The objective of the Invest Michigan Pre-Seed II Fund is to invest in high-tech Michigan start-up companies through loans or equity. Since the Fund’s inception in 2014, Invest Michigan has completed 88 investments—supporting 49 companies, attracting $93.9 million in follow-on investment and generating $56 million in new sales revenue. The Fund supports clients after investment in numerous ways, including serving on the board of directors for 15 client companies, as well as leading in the search and identification of CEO and board positions. Examples of companies previously funded showing significant success include Fusion Coolant Systems, MaxOne and SPLT.

MTRAC is a statewide program that supports the translation of competitive-edge research into commercial applications at all Michigan-based higher education institutions, hospital systems and nonprofit research systems. In order to attract applicants from smaller institutions, the MSF approved the amendment to convert the one-to-one required match, for all institutions of higher education, to a tier structure based on the dollar amount the institution budgets for research expenditures.

The addition of a statewide MTRAC Innovation Hub for high-tech projects in Advanced Computing provides opportunity for spurring growth in related industries, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, block chain, IoT, FinTech, data communications and cyber security. Becoming the fifth MTRAC Innovation Hub, Advanced Computing joins Advanced Transportation and Life Sciences administered at the University of Michigan, Agricultural Biology administered by Michigan State University and Advanced Materials administered at Michigan Technological University.

To date, MTRAC has received 483 proposals; funded 180 projects; created 37 startups, which have resulted in the development of 126 jobs; licensed 29 technologies, 13 of which have been optioned; and received more than $134 million in follow-on funding.

T3N and MCRN are programs that drive collaboration across the 15 public universities in Michigan by supporting mentors for early stage university projects, internships with small companies and industry/university collaboration. In 2017, these programs supported 39 mentors, postdocs and fellows who engaged and worked on more than 450 projects leading to the creation of 13 companies, 16 jobs, 30 licensing agreements, and more than $80 million in follow-on funding.

“Fostering relationships between industry expertise and university talent is at the heart of each one of these programs,” said Denise Graves, university relations director at the MEDC. “Adding an Innovation Hub and moving to a tier structure for the MTRAC program match requirement will expand our commercialization support in a key industry and assist researchers at smaller institutions, with less access to resources than their much larger counterparts.  By making the program accessible to more researchers, we are anxious to see the expansive breadth of innovations and technologies from across the entire state get closer to reaching the commercial market.”

MEDC’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation initiative establishes Michigan as the place to create and grow a business by providing high-tech start-up companies with access to a variety of critical resources, such as funding and expert counsel, from ideation to maturation. For more on MEDC Entrepreneurship & Innovation visit www.michiganbusiness.org/entrepreneurship.

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.