Michigan’s Renaissance “Fund of Funds” Closes at Nearly $50M, Ready to Make Connections Between VCs and Entrepreneurs

To Chris Rizik, one of the best things about yesterday’s announced final close of nearly $50 million in investment funds for the Renaissance Venture Capital Fund is that the money comes with no government strings attached.

“There’s not one government dollar in this,” says Rizik, CEO of the Detroit and Ann Arbor, MI-based “fund of funds.” Renaissance makes investments in other VC funds that invest in Michigan companies, an experiment that Rizik says has been tried in other areas to increase the amount of VC investment and activity in a region—but usually with government strings attached.

“You end up creating programs that may look better in the short run, but every time you make a decision that is based on politics, you are hurting what is ultimately a market-based return on investment,” Rizik says. “And so government programs tend to have lots of checklists of things that have to happen, and they’re political checklists. They’re not checklists that relate to making that venture capital successful.”

That is why Rizik is proudly calling the Renaissance fund the “largest privately funded regional VC fund of funds in the nation.” Now in its second year, Renaissance has so far invested nearly $6 million in six venture capital funds. Those funds, in turn, have put more than $23 million into 12 Michigan companies that have raised nearly $146 million in total and created over 200 new Michigan jobs, according to Renaissance’s tally. Rizik says he hasn’t gotten permission to release the names of all 12 companies, but the 10 he can identify include:

Accord Biomaterials (Ann Arbor)

Accuri Cytometers (Ann Arbor)

Delphinus Medical Technologies (Detroit)

Esperion Therapeutics (Plymouth)

Handylab (Ann Arbor—acquired by BD Medical in November 2009 for $275 million)

Life Magnetics (Ann Arbor)

Arbor Photonics (Ann Arbor)

Kabongo (this firm now appears to be based in Emeryville, CA)

Outside Hub (Southfield)

Swift Biosciences (Ann Arbor)

These firms (the links are to Xconomy stories) are heavily concentrated in Ann Arbor, and mostly focused on the biotech and biomedical arenas—but not exclusively. Kabongo makes … Next Page »

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