U-M to Launch Accelerator for Michigan-Based Startups


Michigan-based startups will soon be able to turn to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for potential developmental support, thanks to a new joint venture between the U-M’s Ross School of Business and the College of Engineering.

Expected to launch next year, the Desai Family Accelerator will provide office space, financial resources, and mentorship to support early-stage ventures as they work toward finding external investors.

“The key thing is that we’re looking for businesses that can make significant progress within three to four months, which would be the duration of the program,” says Kelly LaPierre, managing director of the accelerator. “There will still be continual engagement with the companies (after they complete the program), they will hopefully move on to a bigger space. This is really meant to be a launching pad for these startups.”

Unlike the university’s Venture Accelerator, which provides space and resources for new businesses based on U-M technology, the Desai Family Accelerator will be open to any Michigan-based startup, even if those without a university affiliation.

The new accelerator expands on existing entrepreneurial programs and courses including business plan competitions, grants, seminars, and the Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization program. TechArb — a startup accelerator for U-M students that is also a jointly managed program of the Ross School’s Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies and the College of Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship — will continue to operate as usual.

“There are a lot of smaller stage investments (available) through different contests and competitions, but this (program provides) larger stage investments, which really allows companies to make traction,” says LaPierre. “And starting a company can be a lonely thing, so it’s great to have an entrepreneurial community and cohort of companies that are going through the process with you at the same time.”

The Desai Family Accelerator will be managed by the Zell Lurie Institute and Center for Entrepreneurship. The Desai Sethi Family Foundation and the Davidson Foundation are providing funding and support for the accelerator. Bharat Desai, U-M Ross MBA and founder of Syntel, a global technology services company in Troy, says those at the DS Foundation, “believe this initiative will provide a boost to the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and encourage the establishment of new and innovative ventures in Michigan.”

LaPierre says the accelerator will release information regarding the application process in the near future. For more information, email klapierr@umich.edu.