MVCA Celebrates Year’s Top Deals, Names New Board Chair

The Michigan Venture Capital Association (MVCA) held its annual awards dinner this week to honor the year’s most important deals and VCs. During the dinner, the MVCA also named Jim Adox of Venture Investors as its new board chair.

Carrie Jones, executive director of the MVCA, says that 2013 was a good year for Michigan’s venture capital community. “The state has really been laying the ground work to bolster the venture community,” she says. “Michigan isn’t looked at as a flyover state anymore.”

Bobby Franklin, president and CEO of the National Venture Capital Association, was the keynote speaker. Jones says Franklin told the crowd that the MVCA dinner was the first event he’s attended outside of the East and West coasts. “That’s very telling, and it says a lot about Michigan’s role in the national venture capital community,” she adds.

The Plymouth-based Esperion Therapeutics received the MVCA’s Financing of the Year award for its June IPO, which raised approximately $70 million.

Esperion was co-founded by Roger Newton 1998 and was the company behind the blockbuster anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor. The company sold to Pfizer in 2004 for $1.3 billion, one of the most successful exits in Michigan startup history. Pfizer eventually shut the company down, and Newton went about licensing the name and some of the intellectual property to continue developing small-molecule, LDL cholesterol-lowering technology.

Newton “rebooted” Esperion in 2008. In January, it hired Tim Mayleben, formerly of Aastrom Biosciences, to lead the company through the clinical trials of ETC-1002, a novel small-molecule LDL-cholesterol lowering therapy for treating statin-intolerant and statin-resistant patients. Last week, Esperion announced that the Phase 2b clinical trial for ETC-1002 has officially begun.

The MVCA’s 100 Award went to FutureNet for achieving $100 million in revenue. FutureNet is a Detroit-based company that provides technology-based security, environmental and energy management , and IT infrastructure services. Earlier this year, FutureNet’s CEO, Perry Mehta, was honored with Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award for Michigan and northwest Ohio.

The MVCA honored Pioneer Surgical Technology, which is located in the Upper Peninsula, with the Best Exit Award. Pioneer Surgical, a Marquette-based medical device company founded in 1992, was acquired by RTI Biologics earlier this year.

Tom Kinnear, who helped found the University of Michigan’s Zell Lurie Center for Entrepreneurship, was honored by the MVCA with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Kinnear retired in June but is still an active angel investor and serves as a business and marketing professor at the U-M’s Ross School of Business.

In addition to announcing Adox as its new board chairman, the association named four new board members: Ted Serbinski of Detroit Venture Partners, Patricia Glaza of Arsenal Ventures, Jeff Rinvelt of the Renaissance Venture Capital Fund, and Josh Beebe of MK Capital.

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