This year’s joint presentation of the 36th annual Michigan Growth Capital Symposium and the third annual Coulter Investment Forum on May 16 and 17 created an unprecedented hotbed of entrepreneurial activity and fired up angel and venture capital investment deal-making. The two-day event attracted 530 participants from around the country and featured nearly 60 startup companies spanning the life sciences and technology industries.
“We benefit greatly from the partnership with Coulter,” said Finance Professor David Brophy, director of the University of Michigan Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity Finance, who founded the symposium more than three decades ago. In opening remarks on May 16, he credited the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation’s Translational Research Partners program for providing the critical funding and endowment support that has enabled U-M researchers to accelerate the movement of academic biomedical innovations from the bench to the bedside.
“We [at Coulter] are delighted and honored to be co-hosts with the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium of this event,” said Sue Van, president and CEO of the Coulter Foundation. Recalling her prediction in 2004, just prior to the launch of the Translational Research Partners program, she stated: “Universities that will partner with Coulter will be centers of excellence, will be magnets for recruiting the best and brightest of faculty and students, will be industry’s best strategic partners and will be investment capital’s best investment. We have something unique.”
Both entrepreneurs and investors who attended this year’s jointly hosted investment fair reaped benefits from the record-setting gathering of startups, angels and VCs under one roof.
“We made a presentation to 100 investors in 10 minutes,” said Rodney Hare, COO of ContentOro. “It was a very efficient way to reach prospective investors in our company.”
“We spoke to a room full of interested investors and that led to some important follow-up discussions,” reported AkkeNeel Talsma, founder and CEO of Melius Outcomes.
“It’s important to come to the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium because it is a gathering of everyone in the medical-science ecosystem in one place, and it allows us to be part of the conversation and to figure out how we can help,” commented Katrina Van Gasse, senior associate at Silicon Valley Bank. “We want to work with the coolest companies, and this is where they are.”
“This is my ninth symposium, and they just keep growing,” remarked Nate Fredrickson, an associate at Hopen Life Science Ventures. “The connections we make are invaluable.”
Maureen Miller Brosnan, executive director of the Michigan Venture Capital Association, said the annual Michigan Growth Capital Symposium has played a leading role in creating and sustaining the state’s thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem and expanding venture-investment community. “A forum like this provides a good opportunity to bring together outstate and instate investors,” she explained. “There’s a lot of excitement about the new technologies and ideas coming from the state of Michigan, and outstate investors are seeing that.”
Every dollar invested in a Michigan startup by a Michigan-based VC firm attracts $4.61 of investment from outside the state, according to the MVCA’s 2017 annual research report. Currently, 141 venture-backed companies are located and doing business in Michigan. More than 30 venture capital firms maintain their headquarters or permanent offices in the state, and more than 340 outstate firms have invested in Michigan startups. Total capital under management has reached $4 billion. Last year, 54 Michigan startups received $222 million in venture capital from Michigan venture investors, a 42% increase over the past five years.
“There continues to be a growing need for venture capital at all levels of investment, and an estimated $504 million in additional funding will be needed to keep those 141 startups growing,” Brosnan predicted. She invited entrepreneurs and investors attending the MGCS and Coulter Investment Forum to “toss out some good ideas, develop some partnerships and create some new energy that will help us as a state invest in tomorrow’s next big idea – today.”