Blog: Mike Finney

Mike is president and CEO of Ann Arbor SPARK. A passionate advocate for the transformation of Michigan's high-tech economy he also managed the MEDC’s $1 billion Michigan Life Sciences Corridor initiative between 2000 and 2002. Mike will be wriing about who's making a difference in the Michigan and why.

Post No. 3

I caught you doing something right 

Economic development is a team sport…collaboration among local organizations is changing the culture and establishing the ecosystem that is needed for innovation based start up companies to grow and prosper in our region. Compendia Biosciences is one example of a start up that is maximizing the use of this newly established ecosystem to grow their business.

Compendia Biosciences was co-founded in 2005 by Dan Rhodes, and Arul Chinnaiyan, MD. Their technology, Bioinformatics-molecular oncology tools, data, and analysis software was developed and licensed by the University of Michigan (U-M). The U-M Office of Technology Transfer worked closely with the founders to identify resources that were needed to maximize the probability of success. 

The founders attended Ann Arbor SPARK’s Entrepreneur Boot Camp 2005 and eventually became a client of SPARK’s business accelerator.  Compendia and SPARK negotiated a consulting services agreement valued at $49,000, funded by the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti SmartZone LDFA and the Michigan Technology Tri-Corridor. The services agreement included business plan development, marketing, and talent recruitment. They also received an equity investment of $250,000 from the Michigan Pre-seed Fund. 

So does all this assistance really make a difference? There is a lot of good news to report…With support from Washtenaw County ETCS, Compendia recruited a CEO and Technology Manager. Their first year business development efforts have built a foundation for promising performance. They were awarded over $1.2 million in additional funding from the 21st Century Jobs Fund, raised $600,000 in private equity and recently won a $2.4 million Small Business Innovation Research award.  Compendia has 14 employees, their office is located in downtown Ann Arbor within the SmartZone-LDFA, and they are now repaying the original investment to allow other companies to receive similar assistance. 

On the public relations front, Compendia was one of 15 companies to receive a 2007 "Innovation Company of the Year" award from Ann Arbor Business Review. 

Success stories like this one are highly dependent on a culture and ecosystem that understands the challenges faced by entrepreneurs, and the importance of building a unified team working together to achieve common economic objectives, without duplication of effort. 

- I caught you doing something right! 

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