Michigan University Innovation Capital Fund now accepting applications

June 20, 2024
Written By:
Alexi Pierce, U-M Innovation Partnerships

A new pre-seed venture fund at the University of Michigan’s Innovation Partnerships has launched and is now accepting applications for investment opportunities.

The Michigan University Innovation Capital Fund focuses on investing in Michigan startup companies that have a license to commercialize university technologies from one of the state’s 15 public universities.

Announced in January 2024 by Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, the MUICF will focus on early-stage technology and life sciences companies typically seeking their first investment capital. Companies seeking investment must be operating within the state of Michigan and have a license to commercialize technology from any public Michigan university. With $5 million under management, expected initial investments by the MUICF will be between $50,000 to $250,000.

“We are thrilled to announce that the Michigan University Innovation Capital Fund has officially launched, enabling us to begin investing in and supporting innovative university startup companies from across our state,” said Kelly Sexton, U-M associate vice president for research – innovation partnerships and economic impact. “By investing in Michigan-grown companies, we look forward to seeing positive economic impacts as these startups complete key business milestones and accelerate their growth.”

The money awarded to Innovation Partnerships by the Michigan Strategic Fund and Michigan Economic Development Corp. also supports the creation of the Michigan University Innovation Capital Consortium. The consortium is a collaborative platform bringing together leaders from university technology transfer and university-managed pre-seed venture funds to support the MUICF and university research-based startups. The MUICF targets investing in at least 17 companies in its first two years.

“The consortium is a vital component of the MUICF, with leaders from Michigan’s technology transfer and investment communities offering advisory and strategic support to the fund and its portfolio companies,” said Steve Weber, director of technology and commercialization at Western Michigan University. “I am excited to collaborate with my talented colleagues to support the innovative startups emerging from Michigan’s university research ecosystem.”

Initial members of the consortium include investors and technology transfer leaders from U-M, Western Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, Grand Valley State University and Michigan Technological University.

“We are proud to support the MUICF and its consortium,” said Nataliya Stasiw, equity capital program director for entrepreneurship and innovation at the MEDC. “This new fund leverages the success of other statewide research commercialization programs. Together, we are building a world-class infrastructure to bring university research discoveries out of the lab and into society, improving and saving lives while growing and diversifying Michigan’s economy.”

The MUICF and the consortium are building on the success of the Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization program that has hubs managed by U-M (life sciences and advanced transportation), MSU (agricultural technologies and industrial biotechnology), Wayne State (advanced computer technologies) and Michigan Tech (advanced materials).

The Tech Transfer Talent Network statewide Mentor-in-Residence program is managed by U-M and Michigan Tech, and the ADVANCE University Early Stage Proof of Concept Fund is managed by MSU.