Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Michigan Venture Center will build on U-M’s startup successes

For more information
Michigan Venture Center
• Contact the Office of Technology Transfer at or call 734-763-0614.

U-M is among the nation’s leaders in creating startup ventures based on university technology. To build on that success, technology transfer officials have created the Michigan Venture Center, a one-stop hub for entrepreneurs, investors and faculty inventors.

The center will help faculty inventors create business plans, assess a technology’s commercialization potential, deal with intellectual property issues, attract investors and acquire gap funding to enhance the market appeal of a new technology.

“The Michigan Venture Center is a new component in the university’s ongoing efforts to make certain that our faculty’s innovations have the best opportunity for success,” says Stephen Forrest, vice president for research.

At the same time, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists outside the university can look to the center for a portfolio of startup-venture concepts with the talent, development funding and resource connections needed for market success.

“As the university’s role in business formation grows more important, the creation of this center is a natural next step,” says Jim O’Connell, associate director for business formation at the Office of Technology Transfer.

“Whether you are a faculty member or an outside entrepreneur or a venture capitalist, this is the place to go for venture opportunities based on University of Michigan technology,” O’Connell says. “The Michigan Venture Center will provide the front door into the university for the technology, expertise, resources and connections to build great new ventures.”

O’Connell will lead the new initiative, which was announced formally Tuesday at the annual Celebrate Invention reception.

Over the last nine years, U-M faculty members have launched 83 startup companies, which places U-M among the top 10 U.S. universities creating startups based on university-licensed technologies.

But Ken Nisbet, executive director of the Office of Technology Transfer, has set his sights even higher. His goal is to increase U-M startups by a third over the next five years — from an average of about nine per year to 12.

The Michigan Venture Center is the vehicle that will help the university reach that goal. “We want to build on our successes by expanding our capabilities and connections,” Nisbet says.

The Michigan Venture Center will share space with Technology Transfer and the Business Engagement Center at 1214 S. University Ave.

In addition to the expertise provided by its staff of three business-formation specialists, the new center will offer the insights of six “mentors in residence” — a team of experienced entrepreneurs “embedded” with the Technology Transfer staff for one-year rotations, Nisbet says.

Michigan Venture Center visitors also will gain access to the resources and business connections of the center’s partners, which include Ann Arbor SPARK, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and several U-M programs: the Center for Entrepreneurship, the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, the Medical Innovation Center, the Coulter Program, the College of Engineering Translational Research Fund and the Life Sciences Institute Innovation Partnership.