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Three Michigan companies recently received investments from the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund, totaling $585,000.  To date, the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund, a collaborative effort of Michigan’s SmartZones, has awarded 63 Michigan companies with seed funding totaling more than $14 million.

The Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund companies have attracted more than $18 million in matching grant and equity funds.  In 2011, the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund made 12 investments totaling $2.4 million, matched with more than $2 million in investments and grants.  Combined, the Michigan Pre-Seed Fund investments have helped to create more than 100 jobs in Michigan.

“We continue to receive applications from entrepreneurs around the state who are raising their first round of equity funding for their innovative, technology-based businesses,” said Skip Simms, Ann Arbor SPARK’s senior vice president and administrator of the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund.  “This interest in funding is a clear sign that Michigan’s entrepreneurial spirit is strong.”

The Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund supports a start-up’s commercialization efforts.  Specific innovations include:

Detroit-based Clean Emission Fluids, Inc. (CEF) manufactures patent pending clean energy technologies (FAST™ stations) that provide onsite fuels and fluids for commercial truck fleets. CEF currently has six stations deployed with six additional stations planned for delivery by the end of 2011.

“The Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund’s support and investment in Clean Emission Fluids is an invaluable resource to help advance our leading-edge and patent-pending FAST Truck Stops in a Box that offer on-demand and on-site blending of any fuel in any proportion,” said Oliver F. Baer, CEF president and co-founder.  “FAST stations track the performance of every gallon, proportion and fuel type dispensed – including biofuels and emission fluids – to optimize vehicle operations and lower prices at the pump. Ann Arbor SPARK and the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund has been vital to our developing success and establishing a solid framework on which to build – while helping boost Michigan’s economy in high return, job creating industries.”

Estrakon employees manufacturing their LED product

Estrakon, based in Ann Arbor, is a technology company that designs, develops and manufactures custom innovative, patented LED Edge-Lit signs and displays that provide a new medium for many broad applications such as premium brand advertising and attractive consumer displays that offer significant return on investment.

“The Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund was instrumental in allowing our organization to stay on top of the influx of new business that we were experiencing in mid 2011,” said Matt Shumate, Eskatron founder.  “We have added new equipment, more staff and increased our production space to accommodate the rapid growth.

Ix Innovations, based in Ann Arbor, enhances the usability of electrical test and measurement instrumentation through continual product innovation. Ix’s products are used throughout science and engineering, in diverse fields including low power electronics, energy harvesting, and in teaching labs worldwide.

“The Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund financing allows Ix Innovations to fill key management positions,” said Ian Dailey, president of Ix Innovations.  “This funding is critical to fueling research activities and enabling us to bring our next-generation low power measurement instruments to market.”

The Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund is an equity fund that invests in technology-based companies to support business formation and acceleration.  Ann Arbor SPARK serves as the Fund’s administrator.

To qualify for the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund, start-up companies must be based on a technology in one of the state’s identified competitive technologies and have the sponsorship of a local SmartZone.  In addition to SmartZone sponsorship, companies must have received grant, angel or venture capital funding as a match with the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund investment.

The Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund is an equity investment fund that receives the same returns as the third party investor.  The returns that the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund receives from its investments will be redeployed by the Fund as first round capital to Michigan-based start-ups.

Funds for this initiative were provided by the 21st Century Jobs Fund, a Michigan Strategic Fund program designed to accelerate the growth and diversification of Michigan’s economy.  The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (“MEDC”), a public-private partnership between the state and local communities, provides administrative support for the 21st Century Jobs Fund.  The MEDC markets Michigan and provides the tools and environment to drive job creation and investment. For more information on the 21st Century Jobs Fund initiative, visit