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Ann Arbor SPARK, other biz accelerators invest $18 million, help create 1,000 jobs

A recent study by the Kauffman Foundation shows some impressive numbers from southeast Michigan's budding entrepreneurial ecosystem, spearheaded by the efforts of regional business accelerators like Ann Arbor SPARK.

Jobs created, more than 1,000. Cash invested in local start-ups by local business accelerators, $18 million. Number of start-ups that have received portions of that pool of money, 339. Amount of seed capital
start-ups have been able to leverage thanks to these investments, $101.2 million.

"We've come back," says Skip Simms, vice president of entrepreneurial business development for Ann Arbor SPARK. "People are feeling better in general. The private sector in general is more aware of the opportunities in our state -- opportunities that provide good investment return for their capital."

The Kauffman Foundation study, conducted in the first half of 2010, also identifies the strengths for the Business Accelerator Network for Southeast Michigan, which is composed of TechTown, Automation Alley, Macomb-OU INCubator and Ann Arbor SPARK. Among those strengths are maximizing and growing relationships with local universities, such as the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University, and providing mentoring for entrepreneurs.

Ann Arbor SPARK has been able to claim a number of profitable exits as strengths, several of which have come after the study completion. Some of those include high-profile acquisitions of Mobiata, Adaptive Materials, and Accuri Cytometers.

"The entrepreneurial activity and opportunity has grown a lot in the last few years," Simms says.

Source: Skip Simms, vice president of entrepreneurial business development for Ann Arbor SPARK
Writer: Jon Zemke

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