Michigan Strategic Fund Approves $6.5M for High-tech Startups

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) in Lansing announced the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) has approved a grant amendment for $6.5 million for the Michigan State University Foundation to support high-tech startup companies and innovative technologies in Michigan at the university level through the Pre-Seed III fund.
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The Michigan Strategic Fund announced it approved $6.5 million for the Michigan State University Foundation to support high-tech startups through the Pre-Seed III fund. // Stock Photo

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) in Lansing announced the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) has approved a grant amendment for $6.5 million for the Michigan State University Foundation to support high-tech startup companies and innovative technologies in Michigan at the university level through the Pre-Seed III fund.

The Pre-Seed Fund was created to provide early-stage funding to help these startups and technologies gain greater access to support in reaching the commercial market. The Pre-Seed III Fund is administered by MSU Foundation through Michigan Rise, a wholly owned subsidiary of the foundation.

“Michigan Rise’s mission, track record, and relationships across the state make for a compelling story, and we’re excited to work with a team so committed to this important work,” says Fred Molnar, vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation at the MEDC. “The success of the Pre-Seed III Fund, through MSU Foundation’s leadership and expertise, is critical in terms of the return on investment it has generated from the companies it has supported.”

In April 2020, the MSF approved $3 million in Pre-Seed III funds to the MSU Foundation to better support entrepreneurs and tech startups across the state. Two of the companies Michigan Rise has invested in since then are Greenmark Bio based in East Lansing, and 86 Repairs based in Grand Rapids.

Greenmark Bio recently received approval from the FDA to market its first product, a preventative dental care product called Lumicare Caries Detection Rinse, as a 510K Class II device and plans to begin sales of the product in the fall of this year.

The product is designed to assist dentists in identifying lesions in teeth that eventually lead to permanent damage in the form of cavities. The rinse is a water-based solution containing patented fluorescent sub-micron starch particles that adhere to the subsurface of early-stage carious lesions after penetrating through surface holes. Carious lesions are illuminated with the use of a blue light and can be seen using an orange filter that make them more visible.86 Repairs automates the end-to-end equipment repair and maintenance process for restaurants, a $26 billion industry. This solution creates a single point of contact for restaurant owners in need of repair either through call or text. The support staff is trained troubleshoot and resolve issues before dispatching a repair technician.

The company was founded by Grand Rapids natives Daniel Estrada and Joe Gallagher and capped off the year since the investment with a $7.3 million raise in early July, which saw participation from Midwestern and coastal venture funds.

“Since the launch of Michigan Rise in August 2020, the fund has invested $3.5 million in 24 companies which have cumulatively raised more than $99 million in dilutive and non-dilutive funds. Nearly 80 percent of Michigan Rise portfolio companies are led by founders that have historically been underserved,” says Pam Bodagala, director of Michigan Rise.

In addition to the amendment to the Pre-Seed III Fund, the Michigan Strategic Fund also approved support for a wide array of projects including a new grocery store on Flint’s north side, Ford Ion Park in Romulus, a new much-needed spec facility in Highland Park, and community revitalization projects along with other actions that will continue to strengthen Michigan’s economy and position the state for future prosperity. Read more about these projects here.

“Our team is excited to begin the second year for Michigan Rise. The collaboration with the MEDC and the Michigan Strategic Fund has been tremendous. Together we have had the opportunity to fund 24 companies in 10 months,” says Jeff Wesley, executive director of Michigan Rise. “I am extremely thankful to our team for their hard work to have a positive impact on Michigan startups and their trailblazing leaders, and for curating a portfolio of exciting and innovative companies.”

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