Michigan Strategic Fund board greenlights $6.8 mln pre-seed fund

The Michigan Strategic Fund board has launched a $6.8 million pre-seed fund that will focus on high-tech, early-stage firms.The sole investor is the Michigan Economic Development Corp. Invest Michigan will manage the fund.

PRESS RELEASE

LANSING, Mich.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) board of directors has designated $6.8 million for the Michigan Pre-Seed Fund 2.0, a statewide investment fund aimed at supporting high-tech early stage companies.
The fund will be managed by Invest Michigan, a Michigan nonprofit corporation based in Detroit. Charlie Moret, who ran Connecticut’s Pre-Seed Fund, CTech and TechStart before joining TechTown Detroit in 2012, recently left TechTown to start Invest Michigan, where he serves as president and CEO.
The $6.8 million for the fund comes from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the state’s lead advocate for economic growth. Paula Sorrell, MEDC vice president of Entrepreneurship & Innovation, will participate on the Invest Michigan board as an observer. As it has done with its other tech-targeted funding programs, the MEDC wants to leverage at least $8 in private investment for every MSF dollar invested.
“These pre-seed funds are intended to help innovative companies take those last steps to become commercially viable and more attractive to private investors,” Sorrell said. “With the wealth of entrepreneurial talent we have in Michigan, we want to make sure good ideas turn into businesses that help expand and strengthen the state economy.”
In addition to Moret, Invest Michigan board members include:
Mark J. Bennett, founder and president of MJBennett PLLC and an attorney and entrepreneur who has started five companies;
Martin Dober, vice president for business acceleration at Invest Detroit and former MEDC senior vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation;
Marianne Fey, an entrepreneurial advertising executive who started up and subsequently sold her firm to McCann Erickson and a member of Michigan Angel Investors; and
David Gregorka, venture partner at Baird Capital in Ann Arbor and adviser to seven research universities in Michigan working to expand their Tech Transfer Talent Networks.
The Michigan Pre-Seed Fund 2.0 managed by Invest Michigan will have $5.8 million to invest into high-tech start-up companies and $1 million dedicated to the University Commercialization Fund to help universities transfer technology to the marketplace.
“Michigan is a leader in making capital resources available to high-tech start-up companies,” Moret said. “We look forward to being a financing partner to entrepreneurs developing technology in a wide array of areas.”
Working closely with the Michigan SmartZone Network, the Michigan Pre-Seed Fund 2.0 is designed to support companies as they near commercial viability. It’s just one of a variety of financing programs offered by the MEDC to assist companies with equity capital needs from the start-up stage through the venture fund investment stage.
Companies are eligible to apply for the pre-seed funds if they are developing technologies in the areas of advanced automotive, manufacturing and materials, agricultural technology, alternative energy, homeland security and defense, information technology, life sciences and other innovative technologies.
The MEDC is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, talent and jobs, tourism, film, and digital media incentives, arts and cultural grants, and overall economic growth. The MEDC offers a number of business assistance services and capital programs for business attraction and acceleration, entrepreneurship, strategic partnerships, talent enhancement, and urban and community development.
Invest Michigan is a Michigan nonprofit corporation that manages funds associated with assisting or financing start-ups and early-stage technology-based companies as well as university research associated with transferring technology at the earliest stages into commercial markets. Invest Michigan is the fund manager for the Michigan Pre-Seed Fund 2.0, a $6.8 million statewide investment fund that provides funding to early-stage technology companies.

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