Zell Lurie Commercialization Funded Company AdAdapted Secures $725,000 in seed round

AdAdapted Inc., a tech startup invested by the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund, announced $725,000 in seed capital. The funding will be used to scale up sales and marketing efforts.

AdAdapted Inc. is an Ann Arbor company that builds ads designed for mobile devices. MBA students from the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund found value in the company’s technology and growing need in the mobile app marketplace.

The AdAdapted platform is already to market with clients and advertisers. The company is looking to hire a developer and sales associate to expand its platform and client base.

To learn more about the seed funding, read Jon Zemke’s Concentrate article: http://concentratemedia.com/innovationnews/adadaptedannarbor0288.aspx.

Professor uses Summer Break to Innovate Italy’s Economy

Professor Erik Gordon is using his time off from teaching MBA students in Michigan to teach at the WeHave the Future! Summer Camp in Northeast Italy. The program, created by the former editor-in-chief of the Economist, Bill Emmott, hopes to address the economic roadblocks that old, self-sufficient businesses face in the economy of high tech startups.

This initial summer series is bringing together 30 of the world’s best law and business school students in order to innovate, educate and help them explore disruptive solutions to encourage more stability and growth for the future for Italy. Professor Erik Gordon will teach this week as a part of the program, Dealing with the World: Finance and Market. Using his experience teaching for the Zell Lurie Institute, Professor Gordon will explain the importance and practical values of entrepreneurship and venture capital, including its ability to solve complicated issues and provide jobs.

To learn more about the events and Professor Gordon’s involvement visit: http://www.wehavethefuture.com/.

Tom Kinnear Talks Venture Funds on CBS Detroit’s Michigan Matters

In case you missed it live, here’s a link to CBS Detroit’s Michigan Matters interview with Tom Kinnear, former executive director of the Zell Lurie Institute and current professor of business administration and marketing.

During the June 4 interview, Kinnear discussed topics such as the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium, Michigan’s growing opportunities for venture funds, Michigan’s entrepreneurship community compared to other states and why people who have careers are going back to school and taking entrepreneurship courses.

University Research Pitch Track Debuts at MGCS and Spotlights the Start up Landscape at Midwest Universities

This year’s Michigan Growth Capital Symposium (MGCS) featured the debut of the University Research Pitch Track, which spotlighted the start up landscape at four Midwest universities and profiled a number of emerging companies. The Track was developed with the support of the Midwest Research University Network (MRUN) a regional cooperative of 50 institutions involved in creating and funding research- and technology-based start up businesses. Over the last 11 years, MRUN has expanded its reach to 14 Midwestern states and the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Ontario. In addition to university officials, MRUN attracts investors and accelerators that are promoting Midwest start up development.

The Wednesday morning session was led by MRUN Vice President Gary Keller and featured presentations by representatives from the University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Michigan State University.

Jack Miner, director of the Venture Center at the U-M Office of Technology Transfer, provided a brief overview of the University’s efforts to accelerate the creation of new ventures that bring breakthrough technologies and benefits to market. In 2013, U-M reported $1.33 billion in total research spending and 421 new inventions.

“At the Venture Center, we provide funding, talent, a venture accelerator and project-review teams to support start ups,” Miner said. “For launched companies, we provide expansion teams.” The Center focuses on nine different sectors, including life sciences, physical sciences and digital, and tailors its efforts to meet the different needs of each. Seven of the 11 start ups supported by the Venture Center made presentations to investors at this year’s Symposium.

Industry Leaders Say Big Data Offers Big Opportunities to Entrepreneurs and Investors in Michigan

Big data is getting even bigger these days, as megabytes, gigabytes and terabytes give way to petabytes and yottabytes of information. Many of these ballooning data sets have become too large and complex to be managed with existing data-handling systems, said a panel of industry leaders a week ago at the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium. That problem has opened the door to innovative solutions.

“There are challenges in dealing with big data today,” said Mark Horne, CEO and managing partner of Plymouth Ventures. “But there are also great opportunities that have provided an entrepreneurial boom to companies that collect, manage, analyze and provide security and storage for big data.” Michigan is well-positioned to capitalize on this megatrend, and already has several major players in the big-data space.

“Our company uses big data to help organizations minimize and deal with external risks,” said Ian Clemens, chief technology officer at IDV Solutions, headquartered in Lansing. “We deliver value to customers by mining external data from multiple sources, alerting them to events such as bombings and hurricanes, providing the best possible situational assessment and making it actionable.” IDV Solutions’ enterprise-risk-visualization software is designed to optimize performance, ensure operations and protect people and assets.  It is used by corporations, public-safety agencies and other organizations across multiple functions, such as security, field services, supply chain and operations. The company also takes massive data sets and creates interactive maps, timelines, charts and graphs. When two pressure-cooker bombs were detonated during the Boston Marathon in April 2013, IDV Solutions mapped tweets of the bombing and put out information within seven minutes.

Another leading Michigan company, Lynx Network Group, based in Kalamazoo, plays a major logistical role in big data. “Data isn’t useful unless it can get to people,” explained co-founder Gerald Philipp. “We deliver fiber optics to cell towers to provide faster service.” The company is a major wholesale and retail provider of telecommunication services in the Midwest. It has capitalized on the trend to convert copper infrastructure to fiber optics, which can transmit larger amounts of data faster.

The panelists agreed big data holds great potential for Michigan entrepreneurs and investors. Among the most promising areas are:

Health care: Innovative solutions are needed to provide access to and speed transmission of massive amounts of electronic medical records, connect rural communities with medical technologies and physicians in remote locations and create cloud-based data centers.

Financials: Advanced technologies could help regulatory offices store, replicate and back up critical information and historical records, and enable branch offices of financial firms to connect to cloud-based data storage centers.

Corporations: New products and services are essential to help companies organize and categorize data sets to make information more accessible and useful and enable managers to take a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to collecting, governing and protecting big data.

Rapid Expansion of Healthcare IT is Impacting Health Systems, Patient Care and Investment Strategies, Say Industry Experts

In 2013, $2 billion was invested in healthcare information technology across the U.S. This drove growth of technology-enabled companies that are transforming the operations of major health systems, accelerated the adoption of electronic medical records and improved clinical and in-home care for patients. The huge uptick in interest and activity in healthcare IT is reshaping the entrepreneurial and investment landscape of the broad-based sector, said industry experts during a panel discussion on Tuesday at the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium (MGCS).

“We’re seeing a shift toward accountability and collaborative care, with greater emphasis on patient outcomes,” said Dan Armijo, vice president and director of information and technology strategies at the nonprofit Altarum Institute. “There are a lot of places where collaboration can be empowered by technology.” Population health management, he added, is another target area where advanced IT solutions can help to inform technology policy, modernize public health systems, improve information flows to state systems and foster quality and safety gains for patients.

“We’ve seen a great deal of focus within our system on patient transition management, which offers opportunities for entrepreneurial companies,” remarked Kristyn Aalto, director of innovations at Henry Ford Health System. To meet this need, start-ups are developing Web-based solutions designed to manage the workflow and information sharing challenges associated with transitioning patients between care settings.

“The biggest challenge is around data sharing,” stated Saurabh Sinha, co-founder, president and CEO of emids Technologies. “It is still a big question mark. Can the business model stand? Who will pay?” While there is ample technology to enable data sharing, newer care models and changing reimbursement incentives highlight the importance of managing the care of individuals with complex health issues across multiple sites and across entire episodes of care. “It is difficult to create a longitudinal data view of a patient,” Sinha said. “That is the heart of the matter.”

The consumerization of healthcare IT, especially mobile applications, offers another viable route for entrepreneurial companies to take. Among the most promising opportunities are:

  • Telemedicine
  • Fitness mobile apps
  • Data-monitoring devices
  • Management tools for high-needs patients at home
  • Patient portals to vetted medical information

Given the sheer volume of innovation in healthcare IT, entrepreneurs need creative strategies to break through the noise and sell their products and services to healthcare institutions. The panelists who joined  Armijo at MGCS offered these tips:

  • Align your products/services with client incentives and workflow
  • Find a motivated employer to pay for your IT tool or innovation
  • Convince a clinical group to adopt your cost-saving or efficiency-improving technology and ensure the benefits accrue directly to that department

Prominent CEOs Weigh in on Best Practices for Engaging with VC-backed Boards

Chief executives can take strategic steps to ensure venture-capital-backed boards have the right people with the right experience to help start-ups and growth-stage companies achieve key milestones and avoid serious pitfalls. Likewise, said a panel of CEOs from private and public companies, it makes good business sense to ensure that board members remain well-informed, fully engaged partners throughout the company’s life cycle. Speaking to a gathering at this year’s Michigan Growth Capital Symposium on Wednesday, four C-suite veterans offered insights into several key areas that shape the dynamic relationship between senior executives and VC-backed boards.

Board talent and diversity: “Find wise people who have ‘already done it’ to be on your board and select board-level directors,” said Kevin Conroy, chairman and CEO of Exact Sciences. “Put only one person from the management team on your board.” He suggested setting up an innovation and technology committee within the board to serve as a scientific advisory body that can bring in scientists and experts. “You also need board members with character who will do the right thing,” Conroy added.

Good communications: “It is important to tightly manage the flow, timing and volume of information to the board,” advised Timothy Wadhams, former CEO of Masco Corp. “Boards don’t like surprises, so don’t spring things on them. Give them a heads-up in advance of a meeting. Debriefing after a board meeting is also important.” Wadhams recommended keeping an open dialog with board members outside formal gatherings and ensuring the board is in lockstep with top management. “Bring board members in and make sure they understand new products, including the cost, manufacturing process and other aspects,” he said. “Keep things simple. Focus on what you, as CEO, can control to improve execution and strengthen your brand.”

Transparency: “It’s all about honesty and transparency,” insisted Larry Freed, CEO and managing director of 2nd Stage Partners. “As chief executive, you need to be honest with the board, and vice versa. It’s a two-way street. Build a level of trust, so you can talk about problems before they become problems and your board can help you.”


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