Contributed by Lauren de Vries
Lauren de Vries is Ann Arbor SPARK’s Entrepreneurial Services (ES) intern, aiding the team in carrying out the annual survey and report to funders. This includes developing outreach to increase survey response; conducting Internet-based research; tracking survey data; interpreting, writing, and designing materials and presentations on findings; and creating social media and marketing outreach on survey results.
Over the past few months, Ann Arbor SPARK has conducted our annual client survey (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020). These surveys provide us with critical information on SPARK’s past successes as well as valuable insight on additional ways to support clients in the future. This year’s survey went to 250 clients with a 71 percent response rate (177 respondents).
- Creating a significant impact on companies’ growth and expanded services over the last year:
We provided $1.686 million of direct support to our clients through programs like SPARK’s business accelerator, boot camp, microloans, incubator, and others. This resulted in a pronounced increase in the number of companies reporting positive revenue — from 39 clients last year to 64 clients this year. Of those 64, 31 percent grew revenue from last year despite COVID. We also helped companies raise $194 million in investments and grants over the last year.
- Continuing to generate long-term growth in Ann Arbor:
In the past five years, SPARK provided services to 428 unique companies. Our survey respondents reported a net increase of 979.5 full-time employees from the time they engaged with SPARK, and they currently employ a total of 2,022 full-time employees. Additionally, they predict 50 percent growth in full-time employees in the next 12 months.
- Driving resilience during COVID:
This year, 53 new companies were created that benefited from critical early stage services, including business model development, management coaching, legal advice, and more. Of note, SPARK helped to create 246.5 new jobs this year through the business accelerator, boot camp, microloan, and incubator programs, with the highest increases to jobs coming from incubator clients and business accelerator programs.
- Keeping companies in Ann Arbor:
Fifty-five percent of past SPARK clients have chosen to remain within the Ann Arbor city limits after graduating from our incubator programs.
- Making Ann Arbor a mobility center of excellence:
In this last fiscal year, we served 35 mobility companies that employ 122 full-time employees. This included awarding $365,000 in business accelerator funds to these companies. Mobility companies in the region raised a total of $83.7 million in capital.