Ann Arbor SPARK receives $5 million from state fund to support high-tech startups

Ann Arbor SPARK was recently awarded $5 million from the state of Michigan's Michigan Innovate Capital Fund (MICF) to support high-tech startups.
SPARK is one of four Michigan nonprofits to receive funding from the MICF. SPARK and the other three nonprofits – Biosciences Research and Commercialization Center, Invest Detroit, and InvestUP – will receive a total of $18 million.
Mike Flanagan, vice president of capital programs at SPARK, says the new funding "is doubling down on our ability to continue investing in Michigan-based tech startup companies, which … from SPARK's perspective is to try to make us more competitive as a state, help diversify the economy with industries and companies that are the next generation of technology, and hopefully [create] the jobs of the future for the state and for our region."
In Michigan, Flanagan adds, there's a need for early-stage investors as compared to areas like Silicon Valley, Boston, or New York, where, he says, there are "investors growing on trees."
According to Flanagan, Michigan-based companies that can't find investors often leave the state, "so we were just losing a lot of our really smart technologists and entrepreneurs and some of the really good technology that's being developed in Michigan."
Flanagan says his goal is to retain "the good entrepreneurs and technologies here so that we're taking advantage of the growth potential for the state and the job potential for folks."
The MICF funding, he says, will help SPARK build on its existing Capital Program, which provides that early-stage funding in support of high-tech startups.
Flanagan says he'd like to see "all technology startups that are high-growth" benefit from the funding.
"We're appreciative that the state is doing this program," he adds.

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.
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