Copyright 2024 SPARK

Celebrating Success and Investments: Ann Arbor SPARK Annual Meeting Highlights Regional Economic Achievements

President Ono speaks at the 2023 Ann Arbor SPARK Annual Meeting
  • Awardees included AlertWatch, Sartorius, and Dr. Rose Bellanca
  • Highlights of the 2022 Annual Report were shared

The 2023 Annual Meeting of Ann Arbor SPARK took place today at Eastern Michigan University’s Student Center. The event celebrated the organization’s accomplishments over the past year, featuring a review of SPARK’s 2022 annual report, an awards program recognizing noteworthy projects and contributions, and a keynote address by Dr. Santa Ono, president of the University of Michigan.

Paul Krutko, CEO and president of Ann Arbor SPARK, extended his gratitude to the community, stating, “We are immensely grateful for the unwavering support and active engagement of the community in our mission. It is through your collaboration and dedication that we have been able to achieve such remarkable outcomes. Thank you for being integral partners in driving economic growth and innovation in our region.”

In 2022, Ann Arbor SPARK continued to drive economic growth by providing startups and businesses with the necessary resources to succeed. Some notable achievements include:

  • Entrepreneurial Services: Ann Arbor SPARK made significant strides in nurturing growth and innovation in the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti SmartZone. Throughout 2022, the organization provided consulting support and critical services to an impressive 333 startups, which collectively employed more than 900 individuals. Of these startups, 101 found a home in one of SPARK’s two innovation centers: SPARK Central in Ann Arbor and SPARK East in Ypsilanti.
  • Business Development: In 2022, the team facilitated 24 successful company growth projects, securing new investment commitments exceeding $155 million. These projects resulted in the creation of 559 new jobs and the retention of over 900 existing positions, underscoring SPARK’s commitment to strengthening the local workforce.
  • Pre-Seed Investments: Ann Arbor SPARK awarded 34 pre-seed investments to 31 companies, averaging nearly $300,000 per company.
  • Michigan Angel Fund: In 2022, the Michigan Angel Fund invested over $2.2 million in 10 companies, resulting in a remarkable impact on the regional economy. These investments attracted matching investments, leading to a total funding of $194 million and creating employment opportunities for 876 Michiganders.
  • a2Tech360: In 2022, a2Tech360 experienced substantial growth and transformation, hosting over 20 in-person and five virtual events over the course of a week. The event attracted participation from more than 60 companies and drew an impressive 13,000 registrants across its 25 events.

During the program, Ann Arbor SPARK recognized major successes and key projects from the previous year through the board chair awards:

  • Entrepreneurial Services Company of the Year:
    AlertWatch specializes in clinically proven patient monitoring software solutions. Over the past decade, this local healthcare technology company has developed and deployed clinical intelligence and triage solutions across various hospital care settings. AlertWatch’s specialized software offerings have earned them four FDA 510(k) clearances, enabling monitoring in operating rooms, post-operative recovery bays, ICUs, low acuity units, labor and delivery wards, and now extending beyond hospital walls. AlertWatch’s partnership with Ann Arbor SPARK, including seed-stage investment in 2013, has supported the growth of its technology platform, expanded its customer base, and increased its visibility in the healthcare industry.

    In 2022, AlertWatch was acquired by BioIntelliSense, enabling healthcare providers to benefit from the award-winning BioButton® medical grade wearable device, combined with AlertWatch clinical intelligence, for scalable continuous care from in-hospital to home.
  • Business Development Project of the Year:
    Sartorius is a global life sciences research and biopharmaceutical partner focused on simplifying and accelerating progress in these fields. Their new Center of Excellence for lab products and services in Ann Arbor will be a LEED-certified, carbon-neutral facility equipped with advanced technology. The Group’s Lab Products & Services Division offers innovative laboratory instruments and consumables to serve the needs of laboratories conducting research and quality control in pharma and biopharma companies, as well as academic research institutes. The site is expected to employ up to 300 individuals after its completion in spring 2024.

    Sartorius’ investment in this project contributes to the revitalization of a previously idle park and underscores the company’s commitment to the local community. Collaboration between Sartorius, SPARK, the City of Ann Arbor, the Michigan Department of Transportation, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation has provided support for this venture. Sartorius’ decision to invest in R&D in Ann Arbor highlights the city’s reputation as a hub for innovation and growth. 
  • Economic Development Champion:
    Dr. Rose B. Bellanca, president of Washtenaw Community College, was honored with this award for her outstanding leadership and contributions to economic development in the region. Dr. Bellanca has established strong partnerships with local businesses and organizations, creating opportunities for students and promoting workforce development in the area. She has championed initiatives addressing the skills gap and increasing access to education and training, playing a significant role in building a more diverse and inclusive economy. Through her dedication and commitment to economic growth, Bellanca has made a substantial impact on the Ann Arbor community, deserving recognition as the recipient of this prestigious award.

Ann Arbor SPARK’s annual meeting was made possible through the support of sponsors, including premier sponsors Comcast Business and DTE Energy Foundation.