Venture Investors Turn to Michigan and the Midwest for Investment Opportunities

Customers. Talent. Cash.

Those three building blocks, underpinning the growth and success of venture-backed entrepreneurial companies launched in Michigan and the surrounding region, have been supported over the past 38 years by the Midwest Growth Capital Symposium, formerly the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium.

Now the MGCS’s tenacious efforts are starting to pay dividends, according to David Brophy, professor of finance and director of the Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity Finance at Michigan Ross.

Venture capitalists and angel investors, he says, are starting to look for investment opportunities in their own back yards. Many will be in attendance at the 2019 Midwest Growth Capital Symposium on May 14 and 15.

“We expect there will be an increase in local investing in startup companies in every major community and metropolitan area throughout the Midwest,” Brophy explains. “High-net-worth investors are becoming aware it is now more economical to form and build entrepreneurial companies in the Midwest than on either the East or West coast.”

Even more promising, he continues, is the accelerating reverse flow of startups and investment deals from the coasts to Michigan and neighboring states. “What I expect to see over the next year is investors and entrepreneurs from both coasts trying to come to the Midwest,” Brophy remarks.

He attributes these important shifts to the growing technology-enabled interaction among the markets. “There is increasing connectivity between local Midwestern communities as well as with coastal U.S. and international communities,” Brophy remarks. “Local investors will soon realize they have just as good of a chance of finding a unicorn such as Duo Security in their own community as they would elsewhere.”

The MGCS brings 38 years of experience to the entrepreneurial ecosystem, according to Brophy. “The Symposium is known, trusted and enjoyed by all the people who attend,” he says. “We’re looking to build companies in the Midwest and to help the Great Lakes economic region. We want to advance the automotive and health-care industries, stimulate job creation and encourage our students to stay in the Midwest and get involved with national companies serving global markets.”

Collaboration is another hallmark of the MGCS.

“Our objective is to collaborate, cooperate and make ourselves available to everybody in this University and other universities in Michigan and the Midwest,” Brophy comments. “For the last five years, we’ve had the technology-transfer office directors from other universities come to the Symposium. We’ve given them separate space and time to tell their stories and interact with each other.”

These efforts have resonated with local, regional and coastal investors.

“I believe a lot of the venture capitalists who have served as mentors for our students, judges at our investment-pitch competitions and guest speakers in our classes are expressing increased interest in local companies and local talent,” Brophy says. “I think we are definitely on the way up.”