Ahead of Schedule, UM Venture Accelerator Brings in Three New Startups

The University of Michigan’s Venture Accelerator, a startup incubator launched in January, announced last week that it’s now home to three new companies. This boosts the accelerator’s total number of startups to eight, which makes the incubator six to twelve months ahead of schedule for filling the space, according to Jim O’Connell, the director of UM’s Tech Transfer Venture Center.

Among the startups that took root in UM’s North Campus Research Complex in Ann Arbor this summer is the accelerator’s “first pure software company,” O’Connell said. He was referring to Reveal Design Automation, which focuses on software for chip-design verification, according to the company’s website.

Joining Reveal Design Automation in the move this summer were Wolverine Energy Solutions and Technology, which is working in the areas of alternative energy and the detection of explosives, and Edington Associates, which creates plans to increase the well-being and efficiency of workplaces, according to a UM press release and the companies’ websites.

The accelerator, which fosters the growth of companies that originate at UM’s Tech Transfer center through a mentorship program and other resources, has experienced much interest from these startups—a demand O’Connell called “a backlog.” Despite this high level of interest, O’Connell said the accelerator has not had to be selective about the companies it brings in.

“In terms of being choosy and having to weigh one against the other, we haven’t gotten to that point yet because we really do feel that all the companies are quality,” he said. “The point is to bring in sincere quality and truly accelerate them to bring them to either success or failure more quickly.”

By providing the space and resources the companies need to grow, the accelerator aims to aid in Michigan’s overall business and entrepreneurial development. As such, the Venture Accelerator is one part of UM’s expansion in entrepreneurial-related projects. Aspiring entrepreneurs on the Ann Arbor campus next year will not only be in the accelerator—starting in the fall 2012, U-M will also be launching a master’s in entrepreneurship program.

The three companies that moved into the accelerator this summer have one-year leases with the Venture Accelerator for a cost of $2,150 per month for a lab and $200 per month for an office, according to O’Connell.

Nicole Aber is a contributing writer for Xconomy. Follow @

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