Although fundraising is a constant challenge, things have been looking up in Michigan in the past five years, according to Credit Suisse Customized Fund Investment Group (CFIG) Vice-President Sean O’Donnell. Venture capital firms and assets under management have increased, resources such as the Venture Michigan Fund II (VMF II) are infusing more capital into Michigan companies, and the state is attracting some major players. A recent $15 million investment by VMF II has wooed Massachusetts-based Flagship Ventures to open an office in Michigan by the end of the year – a major win for the state. Flagship Ventures, a $900 million fund, is known in Michigan for its success with University of Michigan spin-off company Accuri Cytometers.
CFIG manages or co-manages over $500 million in capital. VMF II falls under the group’s umbrella, along with other programs investing in VC, private equity funds, and growing companies in Michigan. As a founding member of the Michigan Venture Capital Association, CFIG has committed over $200 million to VC firms in the state since 2006, with another $80 million scheduled to be committed through 2013.
O’Donnell notes that innovation is what drive new technologies and industries, providing vital support to the state’s economy. “In the early stages, these new industries employ very highly skilled and educated workers,” he said. “In the long run, emerging companies in new industries assist in diversifying the Michigan economy and retaining and attracting human talent to Michigan.”
Credit Suisse has a longstanding relationship with the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium (MGCS), and is a sponsor of this year’s event. “CFIG is a strong supporter of the Michigan venture community, and has sponsored and attended hundreds of events in the state,” said O’Donnell. “I view the MGCS as the premier event in Michigan to bring together entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, limited partners and intermediaries. The event’s reach is by far the most comprehensive, attracting firms from the coasts who are not regular attendees at the numerous other Michigan events.”