GR plants VC fund: MAF1 looks to fund early stage startups in region 

September 13, 2010 -

Looking to fill a gap in early stage venture funding in West Michigan, a group consisting of financiers, academics and economic developers are looking to leverage the intellectual property of West Michigan to draw entrepreneurs to the area. more


New VC fund has life science, tech focus

August 23 - West Michigan Medical Device Consortium

Michigan taxpayers are backing a new venture capital fund based in Grand Rapids that aims to invest in life sciences and technology start-ups. more


$10M investors fund in Grand Rapids will aid startups in Michigan's growth industries 

August 19, 2010 - Rapid Growth Media

Life sciences and technology, alternative energy and other growth industry startups in Michigan could soon receive an infusion of $10 million to spur business development and jobs. more


Grand Valley students benefit from $10 million jobs fund 

August 17, 2010 - GVNow

Grand Valley State University students will benefit from a $10 million early-stage venture fund to support life science and technology in West Michigan. The venture capital fund, called Michigan Accelerator Fund 1 (MAF1), was announced by The Charter Group.

The new fund is made possible through a $6 million award from Michigan’s 21st Century Jobs Fund, a program of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Grand Valley State University is an investor in the fund, and the Seidman College of Business, the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, the West Michigan Science and Technology Initiative, and the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing were named as business and technical advisors of MAF1. more


Michigan Accelerator Fund Launching Start-Ups

August 17, 2010 - WGVU Public Radio

Investment in innovation drives industry. Business leaders know the concept works. The hurdle is having the courage to invest in risk and having it pay off. Dale Grogan is managing director of the new Michigan Accelerator Fund who tells us $10 million is now available to launch the next big idea.

“If we’ve done our job correctly as investors, then we are going to have these companies positioned so that they can go and get their next round of capital, their larger capital, so that they can really build these companies and grow them.”

The idea is to identify and invest in companies focusing on Homeland Security, advanced manufacturing, renewable energy and life sciences. So far two groups are receiving some of the money; one in Ann Arbor with ties to energy, the other here in West Michigan innovating in the life sciences. more


New venture fund's formation was 'truly a collaborative effort'

August 16, 2010 - Business Review West Michigan

The formation of a $10 million venture fund in Grand Rapids reflects a united push to fill a critical void in local economic development efforts. Organizers of Michigan Accelerator Fund I have a solid roster of supporters and partners from across the Grand Rapids business community who pledged both money and in-kind support.

Setting up the venture fund, and securing $6 million in state seed money, “was truly a collaborative effort,” said Dale Grogan, co-managing director of Michigan Accelerator Fund I and vice president of transactions at The Charter Group, a mergers-and-acquisitions firm in Grand Rapids.

“We’re just the tip of the spear. We’re the guys with this organization around us,” Grogan said. “It’s West Michigan saying, ‘We’re going to do this together.’” more



State awards seed money for planned $10 million venture fund in Grand Rapids

August 10, 2010 - Business Review West Michigan

A Grand Rapids investment group, backed with $6 million in seed money from the state, plans to launch a $10 million venture capital fund that will target young companies in Michigan.

Michigan Accelerator Fund I was one of two new groups to receive funding on Monday from the Michigan Strategic Economic Investment & Commercialization Board. The panel hopes to leverage its investment to spur creation of new home-grown investors who back Michigan-based startups that can create jobs and diversify the state’s economy. more

August 10, 2010


West Michigan Launches $10 Million Early Stage Venture Fund

August 16, 2010 - Grand Rapids, MI

Michigan Accelerator Fund I, L.P., today announced the formation of the community's first venture capital fund formed specifically to support early stage life science and technology companies: the Michigan Accelerator Fund 1 (MAF1).

The new fund is made possible through a $6 million award from Michigan's 21st Century Jobs Fund, a program of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) focused on jump-starting new investments in high-growth industries around the state.  Additional investments by regional partners will bring the Fund's total to $10 million, with the total raise expected to be complete in early 2011. Fund investment activity is expected to begin in early 2011.

MAF1 was developed specifically to leverage the hundreds of millions of dollars already invested in West Michigan's science and research infrastructure by filling the region's early stage funding gap. The Fund will drive forward the new economy of Michigan, providing a path to funding and partnerships for the commercialization of new regionally developed opportunities.  MAF1 presents its university and research institution partners with a fresh channel for technology transfer funding.

While MAF1 will focus on healthcare and life sciences investments, a portion of its funding plan will be allocated to other important Michigan industries such as advanced manufacturing, alternative energy, and homeland security.

MAF1 is sponsored and supported by leading West Michigan investors, research organizations and socio-economic stakeholders, including:

  • Grand Valley State University
  • Van Andel Research Institute
  • Hope River Ventures
  • West Michigan Science & Technology Initiative
  • Grand Angels
  • Michigan State University Foundation
  • The Right Place
  • Lakeshore Advantage

MAF1 will be managed by John Kerschen and Dale Grogan, principals at The Charter Group, a Grand Rapids-based merger and acquisition advisory firm.  

"This Fund reflects the collaborative spirit and forward-looking leadership that has typified West Michigan over the years.  We have an opportunity to accelerate the development of high-growth industries and the creation of knowledge-based jobs – both of which are necessary for long-term economic success across our region," Kerschen said.

Kerschen also noted that while more than 20% of the country's research expenditures and patents occur in the Midwest region of seven states, less than 6% of venture capital investments occur in the region.  

"We cannot simply wait and hope this situation changes.  This Fund will help us more effectively chart our own economic path in the years ahead."

In addition to providing early-stage capital for high-growth businesses, MAF1 will also include a number of programs aimed at enhancing the support infrastructure for emerging companies.  These include:

Mentor-in-Residence Program:  Two to three mentors will be identified who have deep industry and scientific expertise and are willing to proactively incubate opportunities until they are successfully launched.

Student Internships:  As many as 10 Grand Valley State University Seidman School of Business students will be offered summer internships during the fund's initial five years of operations.

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