FundingWe are experts at finding the right funding at the right time for U-M startups. This includes translational research funding to develop promising projects, as well as private sources of investment capital, such as angel, seed, and venture capital.

Our Ventures team provides direct access to a variety of funding resources. Our relationship with investors and access to funding sources is key to the success of our startups. We help you and your team to secure funds for market readiness, translational research, grant applications (SBIR, STTR and others), business plan competitions and continue through to rounds of funding with angel, seed and venture capital. Our relationships will help open doors for emerging U-M companies and help keep them open throughout the inevitable onset of challenges you will face in creating a new company.

Venture Capital Firms

Venture Capital (VC) firms typically invest in businesses with extremely strong market and revenue potential and a viable exit strategy within a definable period. Some VCs are interested in early stage developments where the risks are higher, and the payoff is three-to-ten years into the future. While other VCs are more interested in later stage investment opportunities where risks are lower. Most venture capitalists have very specific industry, stage and geographic preferences.

The University offers a venture investment program called MINTS, Michigan Invests in New Technology Startups, that, with our recommendation and a qualified venture fund partner, can invest up to $2 million in qualified U-M startups.

U-M Innovation Partnerships is also part of the Osage University Partners (OUP) university network and is one of eight original universities selected because of our process and track record for helping to create valuable U-M startups. OUP invests on our behalf in U-M startups typically at the A round stage and provides us with valuable assessments of our startup opportunities. Contact the venture center team for more information on MINTS or Osage University Partners.

Seed Funds

Seed funds are early stage sources of investment capital to prepare a startup for the initial stages of building out the team, and expansion of sales into the marketplace, all critical steps prior to seeking traditional venture capital. Seed investments are often in the form of a Simple Agreement for Equity (SAFE) or convertible note that subsequently turns into equity at later funding stages, typically venture capital. The University of Michigan has several seed funds available for startups, each fund has its own investment parameters regarding what types of companies they will invest in and return priorities and objectives.
The Venture Center team has close relationships to seed funds on campus, throughout Michigan and across the country and can help maximize your chances of a successful application. Follow the links below to find out more or contact the venture center team for more information.

Angel Investors

Angel investors are high net worth individuals (accredited investors) that typically make the earliest investments in startups as individuals or as part of an “angle group”. This investment may be passive or active and typically is in the form of a Simple Agreement for Equity (SAFE) or convertible note. Active angel investors may take a role in management, bringing in the next round of capital, and/or help in establishing strategic alliances.

Gap Fund

The Gap Fund provides small grants administered by U-M Innovation Partnerships. Typical activities resourced by gap funds can include customer discovery efforts, retaining consultants to help model and test a new concept or to address compliance, regulatory, security or other market issues, and building market prototypes to demonstrate customer potential. Gap funds address the commercial validation of promising technologies and startups and complement the focus on technical readiness of translational research funding. Contact the venture center team for more information.

Translational Research Funds

Translational Research funds are awarded to faculty for promising inventions disclosed to Innovation Partnerships. These funds should further develop the technology, addressing key proof of concept issues. The funds are awarded based on the market potential and prospects for commercialization as determined by Innovation Partnerships and its business / venture partners and an Advisory Committee for programs consisting of technology and business experts. Often a program director manages the application process and the progress of the awardees, partnering with Innovation Partnerships to monitor prospective customer requirements. There are opportunities for this type of funding for U-M projects at other university’s as well, through the MTRAC and other programs. Contact the ventures team for more information.

Follow these links for more program information available for funding on campus:

Other Funding

We also connect our startup projects to government and community funding resources from our partners, including microloans and SBIR/STTR Funds.

For More Information

Contact the Innovation Partnerships Ventures Team for details and assistance with any of the funding resources mentioned to determine which funds would be appropriate for your venture, as well as facilitate introductions to investors and strategic partners.