Back to Blog February 20, 2013 in

Hopen Life Science Ventures’ Expert Team Committed to Creating Culture of Innovation in Michigan

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Founded by a team with deep roots in life sciences, Hopen Life Science Ventures is shining a light on all that the Midwest has to offer young healthcare companies. Between its two funds, Hopen manages more than $65 million, which it prefers to invest in the region. Hopen is headquartered in Grand Rapids and recently opened an office in Cleveland.


Hopen Life Science Fund I invested in a portfolio of seven companies that have raised over $110 million of total syndicated investment. The Fund I portfolio attracted the attention of other private investors in the region who wanted to invest with Hopen. Hopen Life Science Fund II was formed in 2011 and now totals $40 million.


“We believe the network of expertise at Hopen is a huge differentiator and an advantage. The Hopen team grew up in life science, and we apply these experiences to the deals we consider,” said Mark Olesnavage, a managing director at Hopen. “We are proud that we can use our technical expertise and experience to invest in early to mid-stage life science companies – investments that are viewed as inherently risky.”


With healthcare budgets under the microscope, Hopen is particularly sensitive to innovation that lowers total costs. That strategy recently led the firm to participate in a syndicate with fellow Michigan VC firm Arboretum Ventures, co-investing in Fidelis. Fidelis, based outside of Chicago, offers an innovative approach to address the individual needs of patients dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. The investment, which is a departure from Hopen’s historical investments in segments like drugs and devices, was made possible because of the firm’s team of advisors and their extended networks.


Hopen’s other recent investments include companies in Michigan and throughout the Midwest:

  • Tolera Therapeutics, based in Kalamazoo, Mich., is developing its lead drug for induction during kidney transplantation. The drug has completed Phase II and should be ready to begin Phase III late this year.
  • Metabolic Solutions Development Company (MSDC), a Kalamazoo, Mich.-based developer of novel therapeutics for metabolic diseases, whose first two drugs for type-2 diabetes are currently in phase 2 clinical trials.
  • NeoChord, based in Minnetonka, Minn., a medical device innovator aimed at mitral valve repair in the heart, which is conducting an ongoing clinical trial in Europe.
  • Transcorp Spine, a Grand Rapids medical device company providing solutions for compressions of the cervical spine, which is in the beginning stages of developing regional commercial sales.
  • Intervention Insights, a bioinformatics platform developed in Grand Rapids, informs personalized cancer therapies.


To Olesnavage and the team at Hopen Life Science Ventures, the future looks bright.  “We’re bullish about the future,” he said.  “We are confident in our team and our strategy, and that includes our commitment to the Midwest. Syndicating capital here by building the reputation of what’s here is a huge opportunity. The more success stories the region can have, the stronger our case.”


“Individuals in the Midwest and Michigan have a strong work ethic and sense of values that make companies here an attractive investment,” he added. “People are willing to work hard, but at the end of the day, it’s about creating a culture where people are willing to take a chance and innovate. We’re heading in that direction, and that’s exciting.”