The University Research Pitch Track returned to the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium for the second consecutive year and shined the spotlight on the commercialization landscape and emerging start-up companies at five Midwest universities. The Wednesday morning session was led by MRUN President Gary Keller and featured presentations by representatives from the University of Michigan, the University of Notre Dame, Indiana University, the University of Chicago and Michigan State University.
The Track was developed with the support of the Midwest Research University Network, or MRUN, a regional cooperative of 50 universities and research institutions involved in creating and funding research- and technology-based start-up businesses. Over the last 12 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.
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 2014, the U-M reported $1.3 billion in total research spending and 429 new inventions.
“The key differentiator at the Venture Center is that we’ve got one of the best mentors-in-residence programs,” Miner said. “Currently, we have 10 mentors with start-up experience.” 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. This year’s roster of outstanding U-M spinout companies included: Genomenon, Phase Four, Quadmetrics, Neurable and Silicon Kidney.