The University of Michigan Board of Regents has approved a University-housed and managed venture capital fund. ((http://www.pionline.com/article/20111229/REG/111229904/university-of-michigan-to-start-venture-capital-fund))
The permanent allocation, part of the $7.8 billion endowment, will be called Michigan Investment in New Technology Startups (MINTS). The $25 million fund will be invested over 10 years and be co-managed by the University’s Office of Tech Transfer, a department that manages and funds technology spin-offs, and the Investment Office, which manages the University’s long-term endowment fund.
The Office of Tech Transfer has spun off a number of prominent venture capital-ready investments, as is recognized by Dr. David Brophy’s “Financing Research Commercialization” course at the Ross School of Business. The creation of this fund is further acknowledgement that the Office of Tech Transfer is going to be a growth engine for the University and that this technology center will be profitable enough to be worthy of the University’s investment attention.
The initial investment may seem small, but this fund will allow the University to make several small-to-mid-sized investments per year, a number that would be about average for a new fund in this area.
One can only hope that the creation of this fund will attract other venture capital firms to increase their focus on Michigan. Additionally, this new fund will provide students in the Zell Lurie program and the Ross School of Business a vehicle through which they can receive early exposure to venture capital investing. What a great development for the University and southeastern Michigan.
Joseph R. Morrison, Jr.
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