Event Celebrates the Successes of Michigan’s Entrepreneurial and Investment Community
Michigan Venture Capital Association (MVCA), the trade association for the venture capital and angel community in Michigan, today announced the nominees for the 2019 MVCA Annual Awards Dinner. The event will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, at 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn to celebrate the achievements of the Michigan entrepreneurial and investment community. The awards ceremony recognizes the capital events that are fueling the growth of Michigan’s companies, the significant investment milestones enabling companies to grow and excel in Michigan, the companies that are producing groundbreaking solutions in their sectors, and the organizations working to engage with their communities and enrich their local economies. The 400 members of MVCA will be voting to select the awardee for each category (voting closes on October 31) and the four awardees will be announced live at the dinner on Nov. 12.
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2019 MVCA Annual Awards Dinner Nominees
Capital Event of the Year
The Capital Event of the Year Award recognizes the significant fundraising milestones of venture capital firms enabling further investment in companies across Michigan and the nation overall. The following nominees are Michigan-based venture firms dedicated to supporting the growth of high-tech companies in the state.
- Arboretum Ventures is an Ann Arbor-based venture capital firm that fosters partnerships with companies in the life science sector. In 2019, Arboretum Ventures raised a $250 million fund, the largest fund raised in Michigan’s history and surpassing the firm’s previous $220 million fund raised in 2015. Since its founding in 2002, Arboretum Ventures has raised a total of $700 million over five funds to advance technologies in the life sciences sector. The venture firm fuels the growth of companies seeking to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs to healthcare systems.
- Grand Ventures is a Grand Rapids-based venture capital firm that fosters partnerships with companies in the information technology sector. In 2019, Grand Ventures raised its first fund, a $28 million fund focused on seed and early-stage software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies making them one of the largest debut funds in the Midwest. Since its founding in 2017, Grand Ventures has made 7 investments. The fund is expected to fuel the growth of up to 20 information technology companies.
- Venture Investors is an Ann Arbor-based venture capital firm that fosters partnerships with companies in the life science sector. In 2019, Venture Investors raised a $75 million fund to support the development and commercialization of medical breakthroughs. Founded in 1982, Venture Investors is one of the oldest venture capital funds in Michigan. Venture Investors has raised a total of $275 million over six funds, investing $54 million in Michigan-based companies. The venture firm fuels the growth of innovative life science companies and helps bring their technologies to market.
Financing of the Year
The Financing of the Year Award recognizes the significant investment milestones enabling companies to grow and excel in Michigan. The following nominees are Michigan-based companies that are fueling innovation in the state.
- Clinc is an Ann Arbor-based information technology company that enables users to build superior conversational experiences through its artificial intelligence platform. In 2019, the company received a Series B investment of $52 million, one of the largest single investments in a conversational AI startup. Investors include Insight Venture partners and Michigan-based eLab Ventures. With support from its partners, Clinc currently employs 120 people. The company has 37 million global users and plans to take their technology into production with financial institutions around the world, while also expanding into other areas like the healthcare, gaming, automotive and quick-service restaurant industries.
- HistoSonics is an Ann-Arbor based life science company that has developed a non-invasive robotic platform and innovative sonic beam therapies. In 2019, the company secured a Series C financing of $58 million. The company has received investment from Michigan-based investors, including Venture Investors and Grand Angels, among others. With support from its partners, HistoSonics currently employs 35 people. The company’s platform delivers personalized, tissue-specific treatments with unparalleled precision and control, and plans to grow its team, expand its clinical studies and achieve regulatory clearances.
- StockX is a Detroit-based technology company that enables the buying and selling of high-demand consumer products like sneakers, watches, handbags and streetwear. In 2019, the company secured a record-breaking Series C funding round of $110 million, the largest venture capital raise in Michigan’s history. The company received investment from Michigan investors, including Detroit Venture Partners, world-renown rapper Eminem, and angel investor Jonathon Triest, among others. With support from its partners, StockX currently employs 800 people globally, 500 of whom are based in Detroit. The company is now valued at $1 billion and plans to extend its international reach by diversifying product categories and establishing more physical locations in key markets around the world.
Up-and-Coming Company of the Year
The Up-and-Coming Company of the Year Award recognizes Michigan companies across all stages of growth that are producing groundbreaking solutions in their sectors. The following nominees are making a national impact by transforming legacy industries.
- Bloomscape is a Detroit and Spring Lake-based consumer products company founded by Justin Mast that delivers plants directly from the greenhouse to the consumer. The company has received investment from multiple Michigan investors, including Detroit Venture Partners, ID Ventures, Invest Michigan and Ludlow Ventures, and recently raised a Series A financing round of $7.5 million. Bloomscape currently employs 19 people and has plans to grow its team, increase greenhouse processing facilities nationwide, and expand the variety of plants available.
- Censys is an Ann Arbor-based information technology company founded by David Adrian, David Corcoran, J. Alex Halderman and Zakir Durumeric that provides continuous digital asset tracking and detection. The company has received investment from Michigan entrepreneurs and investors, Dug Song and Jon Oberheide. Censys currently employs 32 people and serves over 50 customers who are using their data for threat intelligence, incident response and vulnerability management. The company plans to expand its revenue by selling to enterprise and government markets around the world.
- Orbion Space Technology is a Houghton-based advanced materials and manufacturing company founded by Jason Sommerville and Brad King that develops and manufactures satellite propulsion systems. The company has received investment from multiple Michigan investors, including Wakestream Ventures, Invest Michigan, and ID Ventures. Orbion currently employs 10 people and plans to double their workforce over the next two years. The company has developed a plasma thruster, the Aurora, that is improving the efficiency of small satellites.
Community Impact Award
The Community Impact Award recognizes organizations, events or individuals that create the meaningful, effective connections necessary to build Michigan’s entrepreneurial economy. The following nominees promote collaboration and provide critical resources for the growth of Michigan’s entrepreneurial and investment community.
- Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) is an Ann Arbor-based public charity that aims to enrich its community by distributing millions of dollars annually in grants and scholarships. This past year, AAACF launched the Ann Arbor Entrepreneurs Fund (A2EF), a resource designed to connect local high-growth entrepreneurs to each other and the community. Over the next three years, A2EF will develop into a learning and networking hub that aims to raise the visibility of local entrepreneurs, engage founders and their staff with the community, attract talent to the Ann Arbor area, and link the success of local businesses with the success of the community.
- Ferris Wheel is a Flint-based hub for entrepreneurs and innovators who seek a modern and collaborative office environment. The hub is designed to promote the exchange of information, ideas and resources within an accessible and high-energy workspace. Ferris Wheel also engages in grassroots outreach efforts to promote entrepreneurial education in the community. In 2019, Ferris Wheel achieved 92 percent occupancy and has hosted Nancy Pelosi as well as three presidential candidates for roundtable discussions.
- Start Garden is a Grand Rapids-based entrepreneurial support organization that implements several programs, including the 5×5 Night and the Start Garden 100, designed to eliminate barriers to launching businesses and enrich the economies of their communities. In 2019, Start Garden was able to give over $355,000 to entrepreneurs through these programs. The organization also partnered with the Grand Rapids LDFA SmartZone to create a two-year incubation program for six minority-owned tech startups and are cultivating a growing incubator space to service over 250 members at the 40 Pearl Space.