Bloomfield Hills, Mich. – September 28, 2023 – Michigan Venture Capital Association (MVCA), the trade association for the venture capital and angel community in Michigan, celebrated the Michigan ecosystem during its 2023 Annual Awards Dinner held at The Fillmore Detroit on September 28. At this event, MVCA announced awards recognizing 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 MVCA Annual Awards Dinner was SOLD OUT with 240 attendees from across the state to celebrate the successes of the entrepreneurial and investment community in the state.
Awardees of the 2023 MVCA Annual Awards Dinner were voted on by MVCA members in each category. They include:
- Arboretum Ventures, Capital Event of the Year – Venture Capital Fund
- Our Next Energy, Capital Event of the Year – Portfolio Company
- Claira, Up-and-Coming Company of the Year Award
- Michigan Rise, Community Impact Award
- Danny Ellis (SkySpecs), Entrepreneur of the Year Award
“This is such a great opportunity for the Michigan ecosystem to come together and celebrate the achievements and efforts of both the investor and entrepreneurial community” said Ara Topouzian, Executive Director of MVCA. “Michigan continues to show resilience within an economic environment which has been turbulent these past few years.”
This year, MVCA presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Skip Simms. This award recognizes the achievements of individuals who formed the foundation of Michigan’s entrepreneurial and investment community. Skip Simms has been the administrator of the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund since its inception in January 2007. Prior to his role as the Fund administrator, Skip was Director of the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti SmartZone Business Accelerator program, a program which assists start-ups through access to business resources including consulting, funding and business plan development. Before joining SPARK, Simms was President and Partner with the Ralph Wilson Equity Fund, a venture capital fund-of-funds that deployed more than $33 million of investment in five venture capital firms. Investments included both direct funding in five companies and venture funding in three Michigan-based funds. Simms’ responsibilities included making recommendations regarding return projections and exit strategies and negotiation of observation rights to the boards of all the direct investments. Prior to his career in venture investing in 1999, Simms had served in management positions in the television industry where he managed mature television stations and started one from concept. He is a charter member of the Michigan Venture Capital Association and is on the board of the New Enterprise Forum, a volunteer group of executives who coach and mentor start-up companies on their investor presentations. Skip retired earlier this year from An Arbor SPARK but is still a consultant for the Michigan Angel Fund.
Capital Event of the Year – Venture Capital Fund
Recognizes the significant financing milestones that enable companies to grow and excel in Michigan. The following nominees are Michigan-based venture capital firms that are fueling growth and innovation in the state.
- Arboretum Ventures ($268M, Sixth Fund)
- Michigan Capital Network ($37.5M, Fourth Fund)
- Plymouth Growth ($125M, Fifth Fund)
Capital Event of the Year – Portfolio Company
Recognizes the significant financing milestones that enable companies to grow and excel in Michigan. The following nominees are Michigan-based portfolio companies that are fueling growth and innovation in the state.
- ATLAS Space Operations ($26M, Series B)
- HistoSonics ($85M Convertible Debt)
- Our Next Energy (ONE) ($300M, Series B)
- Shoulder Innovations ($42M, Series D)
Up-and-Coming Company of the Year
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.
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.
- Centrepolis Accelerator
- Michigan Founders Fund
- Michigan Rise
- TechTown Detroit:
Entrepreneur of the Year Award
Recognizes organizations and individuals that have fostered a vibrant entrepreneurial community in Michigan. The following nominees are innovators who are setting the stage for the next generation of startups and entrepreneurs in Michigan.
- Andy Fowler & Guy Suter (Co-Founders, Nutshell)
- Danny Ellis (Co-Founder & CEO, SkySpecs)
- Mike Klein (CEO, Genomenon)
- Mykolas Rambus (Co-Founder & CEO, Hush)