Intel Capital's Wendell Brooks is among the donors to a philanthropic fund that will invest in early-stage University of Michigan spinouts.
U-M Tech Transfer, the tech transfer office of University of Michigan, is raising a philanthropic seed fund initially equipped with $250,000 to support early-stage businesses linked to the university.
Accelerate Blue Fund hopes to secure at least $20m in further contributions but will wait until it has raised at least $2m before beginning to evaluate potential investees.
Initial donors include Wendell Brooks, an alumnus of U-M’s engineering department and president of Intel Capital, who seeded the fund, and Richard Douglas, chairman of U-M Tech Transfer’s National Advisory board, as well as Robert Bronstein, co-founder of student housing operator Scion.
Leveraging its nonprofit principles, Accelerate Blue Fund will aim to provide patient, risk-tolerant capital to early-stage U-M spinouts, emulating the approach of U-M’s biomedical and healthcare-focused Michigan Biomedical Venture Fund but focusing on non-health segments.
Accelerate Blue will favour founding teams with at least one member focused solely on the business, and wants to see roadmaps to securing follow-on funding or exits within two years of an investment.
Kelly Sexton, associate vice-president for research-tech transfer and innovation partnerships at the university, will direct the fund with the help of a third-party fund manager in addition to an advisory board chaired by Chris Rizik, chief executive of VC firm Renaissance Venture Capital.
Sexton said: “There are enormous benefits to the university and our region in accelerating the growth of U-M startup companies and maintaining a vibrant startup ecosystem.
“Students and faculty are attracted to universities that facilitate innovation and entrepreneurship at all levels, and we believe the Accelerate Blue Fund will extend the progress U-M has already made in this area.”