At its annual meeting, Ann Arbor SPARK presented the results of its work in 2019 as well as its work to-date to support the business community during COVID-19. At the meeting, which was rescheduled from an in-person event in April to a virtual event during a2Tech360, SPARK announced that MI-HQ was selected as the Business Development Project of the Year. May Mobility was also named as the Entrepreneurial Company of the Year, and Ted Dacko as Volunteer Leader of the Year at the event.
“Every year the Ann Arbor SPARK’s annual meeting is an important community event celebrating the collective successes of our private, public and academic regional economic development partnership. We were determined to hold this meeting virtually and had more stakeholders and community members register than ever before to hear our report on what the partnership has achieved in 2019 in terms of investment, jobs and company formation and growth,” said Paul Krutko, president and CEO, Ann Arbor SPARK. “SPARK’s work in attracting, retaining, and growing businesses that sell products and services to national and global markets has built and is building the foundation that is necessary for our recovery from today’s economic uncertainty as well as our future growth.”
In its annual report, Ann Arbor SPARK announced the following results for 2019:
- Thirty-one company growth projects that generated $132 million in new investment commitments, 534 new jobs, and nearly 1200 retained jobs.
- Assistance through intensive services and grants to 262 startups, including 86 early stage companies housed at the SPARK Central Innovation Center, located in downtown Ann Arbor, and at SPARK East in Ypsilanti.
- More than $1 million invested in 11 early stage companies through the Michigan Angel Fund, which is administered by Ann Arbor SPARK.
Krutko also detailed SPARK’s COVID-related efforts to support businesses throughout the region, distributing funds from the State of Michigan, Washtenaw County, various foundations and private individuals. This included:
- $8.1 million awarded to 446 companies through the Michigan Small Business Restart Grant program
- $1.9 million awarded to 648 companies through the Michigan Small Business Relief Fund
- $1.38 million awarded to 529 companies through the Washtenaw Small Business Relief Fund
Every year SPARK also singles out what it deems to be the most outstanding projects in its two main focus areas; business development of mature companies and entrepreneurial service support to startups and early stage companies. SPARK also recognizes one of its volunteer leaders that has made significant contributions to advancing the mission of the partnership.
Receiving the Business Development Company of the Year award, MI-HQ is home to more than 40 companies and is the Ann Arbor region’s premier biotech incubator and wet lab facility. In 2019, MI-HQ expanded, adding a new 35,000-square-foot building on its campus. The organization invested $2.5 million in the expansion, which brought its total size to 160,000 square feet. Since its opening, Ann Arbor SPARK has helped Wacker, Bluewrist, and Fine Point Consulting establish offices at MI-HQ, which now boasts the largest concentration of life science companies in the region.
Entrepreneurial Company of the Year May Mobility was founded to solve a unique challenge facing the world today; an imbalance in access to mobility within the backdrop of increasingly congested cities and towns. The result is a company that uses autonomous technology to create a safer, greener and more accessible way to get around. Last year, May Mobility raised $50 million in a Series B. The fundraising follows the company’s $22 million fundraising the previous year. Ann Arbor SPARK worked to attract May Mobility to the region and supported its growth through talent and marketing initiatives as well as a grant to brand their vehicles.
Ted Dacko, awarded Volunteer Leader of the Year, is founder of Arbor Dakota Strategies. He has more than 45 years of experience in executive-level management and leadership. Before it was sold to Johnson & Johnson in 2008, he was the CEO of Ann Arbor-based HealthMedia Inc., which he grew to a $30 million annual Software as a Service company. Dacko has been a fixture for years within the SPARK Incubator Network, helping companies as mentor, entrepreneur-in-resident, serving on boards, and more. His candor and insights have guided many startups to success. Dacko is particularly committed to inspiring future entrepreneurs through his work as an instructor at University of Michigan’s Center for Entrepreneurship and as executive director of the Blue Ocean Student Entrepreneur pitch competition.
Ann Arbor SPARK’s 2020 annual meeting is part of its a2Tech360 program, featuring seven days of 16 inspiring events showcasing Ann Arbor’s spirit of innovation to the world. a2Tech360 is sponsored by KLA and the Ann Arbor Ypsilanti SmartZone/ Local Development Finance Authority. For more information, visit https://a2tech360.com/events/invest360/.
Ann Arbor SPARK’s annual meeting is sponsored by DTE Foundation, Comcast Business, First Martin Corporation, Bank of Ann Arbor, PNC Bank, Toyota, Yeo & Yeo, Comerica, Consumers Energy, Destination Ann Arbor, ITC Michigan, J.S. Vig Construction, Maurer Management & Properties, Michigan Works! Southeast, NETSCOUT, Rudolph Libbe Group, University of Michigan Credit Union, Russell Video, and Wagner Design Associates.
Ann Arbor SPARK
Ann Arbor SPARK, a non-profit organization, is advancing the region by encouraging and supporting business attraction, retention, and acceleration. The organization identifies and meets the needs of businesses at every stage, from startups to large organizations. Ann Arbor SPARK collaborates with business, academic, government, and community investor partners. For more information, please call (734)-761-9317 or visit www.AnnArborUSA.org.