Michigan Angel Fund Makes First Investment in BioPhotonics

The Michigan Angel Fund (MAF), a new 70-member angel investing group managed by Ann Arbor SPARK, announced it has made its first investment—in East Lansing-based BioPhotonics Solutions. Terms of the deal were undisclosed. The MAF, a $2 million professionally managed equity fund formed last year, is the largest angel organization in Michigan.

BioPhotonics Solutions is a Michigan State University spin-off that has developed technology to compress ultra short laser pulses that Simms calls “a game changer.”

The fund looks to invest between $100,000 and $1 million in capital-efficient, tech-based ventures and draws heavily from the state’s business community for investment advice. The fund asks entrepreneurs to contact it and answer a questionnaire for consideration.

“We had thought about this several years ago as a way to get more high-net-worth investors to get involved with startup opportunities percolating in Michigan,” explains Skip Simms, senior vice-president of SPARK and managing partner of the MAF. “There is enough opportunity in the state of Michigan that we don’t need to look anywhere else. We’re only going to invest in Michigan companies because we think there’s plenty of deal flow.”

Despite that deal flow, Simms believes Michigan is behind most states in terms of angel investors per capita, although he feels encouraged by what he calls significant growth in angel investing in the state over the past three years. Angel groups have recently popped up in Muskegon and Traverse City—a “very, very positive sign,” he says.

What is needed to grow angel investment in Michigan, Simms says, is to find qualified investors through outreach and investing. “It’s pretty much a one-on-one effort,” he adds.

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