Tech entrepreneurs are on the rise in Michigan and playing an increasingly prominent role in Michigan’s economy, with the number of tech start-up companies in Michigan more than tripling over the past four years, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced today.
“No other state does what Michigan does to fund an entire entrepreneurial ecosystem that supports innovative early stage companies,” said MEDC Vice President of Entrepreneurial Services and Innovation Paula Sorrell. “From university translational research to high-tech incubators, business advisory support, pre-seed funding programs and venture capital – we are creating a dynamic business environment to support entrepreneurs and encourage investment into economic growth sectors, including life sciences, information technology, and advanced manufacturing.”
According to the 2014 Metrics Report released by MEDC’s Office of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Venture Capital (EIVC), 248 new tech companies were created in Michigan last year. An average of 240 new tech companies have been created each of the last three years with an average of 1,100 new tech jobs each year.
Also in 2014, private investment in new tech companies in Michigan last year was $710 million. This means that for every dollar the Michigan Strategic Fund spent on tech entrepreneurship last year, small tech companies raised $35 from the private sector and federal contracts.
In addition, Michigan’s venture capital community has shown significant growth during the last five years. The number of venture capital firms in Michigan increased to 35 firms during that time. There has been nearly a doubling in the number of venture capital professionals in Michigan, compared to a net 13 percent decrease nationally.
“General trends we’re seeing in the ecosystem are that our venture capitalists who are dedicated to Michigan are moving to larger funds or into more senior positions or both. We’re seeing more investment firms such as Mercury Fund, Detroit Innovate, and Huron River Ventures investing in technologies that are in the industrial, advanced transportation and manufacturing spaces, leveraging Michigan’s traditional assets,” Sorrell said. “We’re also seeing traditional investment groups now interested investing in venture capital, and over the past three years we’ve seen the number of early-stage tech companies growing. People are starting to view Michigan as a great place to invest in Michigan tech companies.”
MEDC’s Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Venture Capital team works to leverage private funds into early stage tech companies like ProNAi Therapeutics, Inc., based at the Michigan Life Science Innovation Center in Plymouth. ProNAi is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing DNA (DNAi) interference technologies for cancer treatments. The company received funds from MEDC through the 21st Century Jobs Fund and support through many other programs run by EIVC.
The company recently announced the closing of $59.5 million in Series D financing that will allow ProNAi to advance its PNT2258 drug candidate in several Phase II clinical studies in patients with various forms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“ProNAi is developing a new class of DANi therapeutics that has demonstrated promising results in lymphoma patients,” said ProNAi board member Albert Cha, MD, PhD. “We are excited about the opportunity to move PNT2258 forward and further develop the company’s pipeline.”