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Ann Arbor start-ups dominate Accelerate Michigan semi-finals, again

The second annual Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition will take place later this fall, and Ann Arbor-based start-ups are setting the stage yet again, dominating the ranks of the semi-finals for the second straight year.

This year there are at least 23 start-ups that call Tree Town home, along with two from Ypsilanti, one from Saline and a handful more with ties to the University of Michigan. More than half of the 53 companies in the semi-finals are in Washtenaw County. A broad range of firms like past winner Accio Energy and up-and-comers like Denovo Sciences are represented. Ann Arbor start-ups also took half of the semifinal spots last year. Is anyone really surprised? Jacob Cohen isn't.

"I would expect it because of how robust the business plan circuit is in Ann Arbor," says Cohen, a Detroit-based venture capitalist. "It just goes to show you how important it is to provide structure and a path."

Cohen is a vice president of Detroit Venture Partners, an aggressive early stage venture capital firm that is trying to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem in downtown Detroit robust enough to compare to Ann Arbor's. It's a task Cohen believes can be accomplished within a few years. Cohen is a U-M graduate who is six credit hours short of a dual graduate degree in business and law from U-M. He stopped short to take the job with Detroit Venture Partners. He also grew and exited his own start-up in Ann Arbor called Ugrub.com.

Cohen sings the praises of Ann Arbor's entrepreneurial support system and its depth. Services from Ann Arbor SPARK, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce and other local entrepreneurs are the backbone of building a successful start-up culture ripe with talent, investment and acquisitions. Paramount to all of that is U-M, he says, adding it goes a long way in putting Ann Arbor "years ahead of everybody else."

"Michigan has $1.3 billion in paid research," Cohen says. "U-M has a real research and venture capital community. You can't replace that."

Source: Jake Cohen, vice president of Detroit Venture Partners
Writer: Jon Zemke
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  • Detroit Venture Partners
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