October 18-20 | Tucson, AZ

The Research Institution GAP Fund and Accelerator Program Summit

Ann Arbor SPARK graduate receives support from Michigan’s new angel fund

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October 18-20, 2023 / Tucson, AZ
The annual summit for research institution gap fund and accelerator programs, including proof of concept programs, startup accelerators, and university venture funds

The Story

Michigan State University technology spin-out company BioPhotonics Solutions Inc. is the first venture to win equity funding from the $2 million Michigan Angel Fund.

Founded in 2003 by University Distinguished Professor Marcos Dantus, BioPhotonics is commercializing technology to automate measurement, compression and shaping of ultrashort laser pulses, improving lasers’ usefulness for surgery, biomedical imaging and potentially for other medical, industrial, scientific and defense applications.

“Closing on this investment is an integral part of the strategy set in motion last year to grow the company,” Dantus said. “Thanks to (angel fund managing director) Skip Simms, we were able to hire Kiyomi Monro, an industry leader with excellent track record, as the new CEO.”

The company’s proprietary technology manipulates laser pulses–measured in femtoseconds or a millionth of a billionth of a second–shaping them for each application and avoiding beam distortion and shock. Rather than requiring constant and time-consuming manual adjustments, the company’s solution, called Multiphoton Intrapulse Interference Phase Scan, or MIIPS, does it automatically with greater accuracy and resolution than is possible using conventional optics.

BioPhotonics has distribution contracts with a dozen laser companies around the world, and a line of products manufactured in Michigan. The company has won several industry honors, published a number of technology papers and has won federal small-business technology transfer funding awards as it scales up.

Describing itself as the largest angel capital organization in Michigan, the Ann Arbor-based Michigan Angel Fund, or MAF, focuses on capital efficient early stage companies with investments starting at $200,000. With more than 70 members, the MAF recently closed to new investors.

“MAF is an important addition to Michigan’s evolving entrepreneurial eco-system,” Simms said in the fund’s investment announcement. “The venture industry in our state has grown dramatically the past few years, with hundreds of millions of dollars ready to be deployed in companies needing several million to grow.

“Our focus is on funding companies that do not need a lot of capital to get to profitability,” he said. “Most VCs (venture capital funds) aren’t interested in these investments because the companies are too small, but these smaller companies can still generate significant ROI (return on investment) and contribute to the overall health of our economy.”

MAF was established by Ann Arbor SPARK, with administrative support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, to help finance early stage companies in Michigan and to attract additional angel investors. As managing member, Ann Arbor SPARK coordinates screenings of fund applicants, conducts due diligence, and works with the New Enterprise Forum to prepare companies for their investor presentations. Ann Arbor SPARK also works with business accelerator organizations around the state to identify quality companies for potential MAF investment.

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