The Midwest is rich with seed-stage companies and university technology transfer potential, and Wisconsin-based Venture Investors has enjoyed great success in Michigan in recent years. The VC fund focuses on early-stage life science and technology companies, and holds particular interest in university spin-offs from research schools such as the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin.
Managing Partner Jim Adox, who leads the Michigan activity from Ann Arbor, has overseen a series of investments in recent years which serve as a technological showcase of Midwest potential: HistoSonics, Inc, a developer of non-invasive surgery technology; Incept BioSystems, which specializes in infertility treatments; NanoBio Corporation, a biopharmaceutical company; and Tissue Regeneration Systems, a maker of medical devices for reconstruction of bone tissue. Each of the companies was generated through the work of University of Michigan professors and researchers, and collaboration with the school’s Office of Technology Transfer. “Over three years, we’ve put together this nice portfolio of companies, and they all have great founding teams of professors, students and employees who worked on what became the products for five to ten years before they were spun out,” Adox said. “So these are the fruits of their labor. Trying to take their academic research and turning it into products to help patients at the end of the day – that’s one thing all the founders and professors have in common. They want to see their research go on to help people live healthier lives.”
Adox has been attending the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium (MGCS) since he was a student at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. He used the networking opportunities of the MGCS to help structure Venture Investors’ HistoSonics deal. “We were working on the HistoSonics investment during the time of the Symposium, and then at the Symposium helped build the syndicate for the company,” he said. “We ended up with a total of five investors, including us. The Symposium was one of those instrumental events during that investment, pulling together a really strong syndicate leading to an $11 million Series A investment. It’s a great event to get everybody together and work on deals.”