I’ve said it and I am starting to hear others say it, ‘Ann Arbor is the Silicon Valley of Michigan’. The obvious reason is the amount of R&D that is done here in the region. Of course, you start with the mega research university, University of Michigan, which is up to around $1.4 BILLION in annual research, and is one of the largest research universities in the U. S. Almost all transportation companies in the world have an R&D facility within 25 miles of downtown. Then there are the individual entrepreneurs who have created their own intellectual property products and services. We are quickly becoming a hub for security software companies. And, of course, many of our startups are in the life science space. About 55 perfect of the 2015 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) federal grants given to Michigan companies were to Ann Arbor area companies. See more about SBIR/STTR funding at BBCEtc.
Another validation point popped up recently, when Paul Singh, a mega angel investor, motored through Ann Arbor this month as part of his Results Junkies tour. Part of the tour includes ‘office hours’ where he meets with entrepreneurs, listens to their pitches, and considers making an investment. More than 50 Ann Arbor startups applied to meet with Paul, who noted that in most communities, he gets between 30 and 35 applications. While here in Ann Arbor, Paul met with 18 of the companies that applied. Three of those companies are on his list for future followup and potential funding; Paul indicated he usually leaves a community with no companies for future followup. I asked him to let me know if he does any further diligence and decides to invest, and we’ll let you know the outcome of the pitches.
Coming in October Steve Case’s program called Rise of the Rest is coming through Ann Arbor. Applications for making the cut to eight companies that will pitch him for a $100,000 investment closed last week. But what was interesting, again, were the numbers: Applications from central Pennsylvania totaled 80, Indianapolis 99, Columbus 63, and Ann Arbor 82.
What can I say. I’m surrounded by great tech entrepreneurs and startups.