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.