West Michigan Launches $10 Million Early Stage Venture Fund to Support Life Science & Technology Collaboration Helps Secure $6 Million Award from Michigan's 21st Century Jobs Fund

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Aug. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Michigan Accelerator Fund I, L.P., today announced the formation of the community's first venture capital fund formed specifically to support early stage life science and technology companies: the Michigan Accelerator Fund 1 (MAF1).

The new fund is made possible through a $6 million award from Michigan's 21st Century Jobs Fund, a program of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) focused on jump-starting new investments in high-growth industries around the state.  Additional investments by regional partners will bring the Fund's total to $10 million, with the total raise expected to be complete in early 2011. Fund investment activity is expected to begin in early 2011.

MAF1 was developed specifically to leverage the hundreds of millions of dollars already invested in West Michigan's science and research infrastructure by filling the region's early stage funding gap. The Fund will drive forward the new economy of Michigan, providing a path to funding and partnerships for the commercialization of new regionally developed opportunities.  MAF1 presents its university and research institution partners with a fresh channel for technology transfer funding.

While MAF1 will focus on healthcare and life sciences investments, a portion of its funding plan will be allocated to other important Michigan industries such as advanced manufacturing, alternative energy, and homeland security.

MAF1 is sponsored and supported by leading West Michigan investors, research organizations and socio-economic stakeholders, including:

  • Grand Valley State University
  • Van Andel Research Institute
  • Hope River Ventures
  • West Michigan Science & Technology Initiative
  • Grand Angels
  • Michigan State University Foundation
  • The Right Place
  • Lakeshore Advantage

MAF1 will be managed by John Kerschen and Dale Grogan, principals at The Charter Group, a Grand Rapids-based merger and acquisition advisory firm.  

"This Fund reflects the collaborative spirit and forward-looking leadership that has typified West Michigan over the years.  We have an opportunity to accelerate the development of high-growth industries and the creation of knowledge-based jobs – both of which are necessary for long-term economic success across our region," Kerschen said.

Kerschen also noted that while more than 20% of the country's research expenditures and patents occur in the Midwest region of seven states, less than 6% of venture capital investments occur in the region.  

"We cannot simply wait and hope this situation changes.  This Fund will help us more effectively chart our own economic path in the years ahead."

In addition to providing early-stage capital for high-growth businesses, MAF1 will also include a number of programs aimed at enhancing the support infrastructure for emerging companies.  These include:

Mentor-in-Residence Program:  Two to three mentors will be identified who have deep industry and scientific expertise and are willing to proactively incubate opportunities until they are successfully launched.

Student Internships:  As many as 10 Grand Valley State University Seidman School of Business students will be offered summer internships during the fund's initial five years of operations.

SOURCE Michigan Accelerator Fund I, L.P.




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