Venture capital symposium returns to connect entrepreneurs to investors in Ann Arbor

The 42nd annual Midwest Growth Capital Symposium will take place in Ann Arbor May 23-24, featuring Michigan entrepreneurs Louis Cannon and Dug Song as keynote speakers.
Cannon is founder and senior managing director of Charlevoix-based Biostar Capital. Song co-founded Duo Security in Ann Arbor and is now co-founder and president of the Song Foundation
The symposium is a two-day event aimed at venture capitalists, featuring panel discussions on topics like technology and health care. More than 300 entrepreneurs, professionals, and business executives are expected to attend.
David Brophy, professor emeritus at the University of Michigan and founder of the Midwest Growth Capital Symposium, says he started the conference to explore a relatively simple question: "Why do so many tech startups in Michigan fail for lack of capital or move to other places and succeed?"
Brophy’s research indicated that many successful Michigan-based companies were obtaining their funding from sources outside the state. He decided to try gathering local companies with investors from across the country to "see the best of breed."
"What it did was wake up the rest of the country to the fact that [Michigan was] a pretty good place for tech startups because we had major industry and manufacturing orientation," Brophy says.
Brophy says the symposium is "more than just a place where companies get up and tell other people about themselves. It's been a real value pump for the University of Michigan, for other universities, and for all the companies here in the state."
"I feel like John the Baptist here with venture capital — you know, preaching about it for so many years," Brophy says. 

But, he adds, he’s definitely seen major growth in the state, even if Michigan hasn't seen quite the same level of success as Silicon Valley.
"The biggest thing right now is, are we going to have a venture capital business or aren't we?" Brophy says. "I think the answer is we certainly are. We've already had some color slapped in this face, and health is coming back to it."

Natalia Holtzman is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. Her work has appeared in publications such as the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Literary Hub, The Millions, and others.

Photo courtesy of Midwest Growth Capital Symposium.
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