Michigan VC Report Highlights Positive Trends

Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor — 

On the heels of Renaissance Venture Capital announcing earlier this month that it had its first close of $60 million on its second fund, the Michigan Venture Capital Association (MVCA) released its annual report on the state of Michigan’s venture ecosystem. Its findings? More venture capital—a 64 percent increase in the past five years—and more deals. This optimism seems to square with regional venture capital data released by MoneyTree in April, which reported five deals in Detroit during the first quarter of 2012, with a total investment of $15.1 million. According to the MoneyTree report, the last time five deals were closed in Detroit in a single quarter was back in the second quarter of 2000. By contrast, three deals worth a total investment of $1.5 million were closed in the first quarter of 2011.

Michigan’s VC scene bucked the national trend of an overall decrease in venture activity. According to the same MoneyTree report, which is prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association based on data from Thomson Reuters, first-quarter venture capital investments fell 19 percent nationwide in terms of money and 15 percent in terms of deal numbers compared to the fourth quarter of 2011. In Michigan, venture capital investments in Q1 fell by 11 percent over the previous quarter, but the number of deals quadrupled.

The MVCA data shows that investments concentrated in Life Sciences (40 percent), clean tech (18 percent) and IT (18 percent). New to the report this year are figures on what state-backed venture funds are contributing to the economy: The MVCA estimates that companies supported by the $215 Venture Michigan Fund alone have put $50 million back into the economy in the form of salaries paid and services purchased.

Key findings in the MVCA’s report include that the number of venture firms and capital under management both increased. There are currently 54 venture capital firms in Michigan with 335 active portfolio companies. Of the $3 billion of venture capital under management, roughly $370 million is available for new investments both inside and outside of Michigan.

During 2011, Michigan startup companies received $191 million in capital investment. There were 38 total investments, which included 22 new companies that raised a first round of funding.

In 2011, four Michigan VC firms—Arboretum Ventures, Plymouth Venture Partners, and the local offices of MK Capital and Arsenal Ventures—successfully closed funds and raised a total of $348 million. The MVCA report says that Michigan now has six funds that are over $100 million. Small and mid-size funds continue to grow, as well, with eight funds between $50 million and $100 million and 13 funds with less than $50 million. There were three significant exits in 2011 out of a total of 13 exits: Accuri Cytometers (reported to be $205 million), Ecosynthetix ($100 million), and Micronics (undisclosed, but it’s electronics giant Sony that purchased the company).

Staying with the theme of optimism, the MVCA report predicts that by 2016, Michigan will be “a nationally known top venture capital location,” with both venture and angel capital communities playing a “meaningful” role in Michigan’s revitalization. While that remains to be seen, the numbers do seem to indicate strong forward motion.