2024 Annual Meeting Highlights

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the 2024 Ann Arbor SPARK annual meeting where we presented the results of our 2023 work and celebrated 20 years of regional economic development and innovation.

For 20 years, Ann Arbor SPARK has been at the forefront of driving economic development, fostering entrepreneurial opportunities, and enhancing community engagement. We model how private, public, and academic institutions can collaborate to form lasting social and economic prosperity. Our collaboration with public, private, and academic partners continues to position our community as an attractive location for new investment and high-value, knowledge-based talent based on intellectual capital unsurpassed in the United States.

2023 Highlights

  • Entrepreneurial Services supported 400 startups and nurtured 102 incubator clients.
  • Business Development efforts in Washtenaw and Livingston counties supported 23 company growth projects creating $208M in new investments, 516 new jobs created, and 363 jobs retained.
  • SPARK Capital invested $1M in 13 companies and the Michigan Angel Fund invested $749k in four companies.
  • Marketing efforts generated 500k website visits, 7.6M social media impressions and 486k interactions, and hosted 97 events with more than 7,200 registrations.

Entrepreneurial Services Company of the Year: CultureWell

Culturewell was named the Entrepreneurial Services Company of the Year for helping healthcare facilities detect and prevent outbreaks via its infection risk prevention platform. Culturewell’s technology detects germs growing on surfaces with 100x better sensitivity and specificity compared to the previous leading technology available on the market.

Volunteer of the Year Award: David Wilhoit

SPARK presented David Wilhoit, president and CEO of Wacker Chemical Corporation, with the Volunteer of the Year award for his strategic guidance and leadership at SPARK, which has been crucial in promoting economic growth in Ann Arbor.

Economic Impact Awards

Ann Arbor SPARK proudly presented seven Economic Impact awards to regional companies that have significantly contributed to the region’s prosperity through job creation and investments over the past twenty years.

Click each logo to view the company’s economic impact video.

SPARK Chairs Reflect on 20 Years: Past, Present and Future

A standout highlight of the program was a panel discussion featuring former SPARK board chairs. The panel, moderated by Kelly Sexton, the University of Michigan’s Associate Vice President for Research and Innovation Partnerships and Economic Impact, included Steven Forrest, University of Michigan professor of electrical engineering and computer science; Tim Marshall, president and CEO of Bank of Ann Arbor; Rick Snyder, former Michigan Governor and CEO of SensCy; and Cynthia Wilbanks, senior advisor at the Peterson Rudgers Group and former University of Michigan vice president for government relations. These distinguished individuals shared their perspectives on SPARK’s impact since its founding, imparted lessons they’ve learned, and offered advice for the organization’s future leadership.

Thanks to our Sponsors

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