CHICAGO – More than 500 eligible proposals are now competing for up to $100 million in start-up funding that will be awarded this summer by Michigan's 21st Century Jobs Fund.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Michigan Economic Development Corporation CEO James Epolito disclosed the details at the BIO 2006 International Conference in Chicago in a telephone interview with Rod Kackley of Mitechnews.Com on Monday.
This year, 505 proposals were submitted by Michigan entrepreneurs asking the state for a total of $1.1 billion, a ten fold increase from last year when 85 proposals requested $102 million. The former Technology Tri-Corridor Fund awarded just $26 million.
Epolito said the funding proposals this year came from more than 796 letters of intent.
“I guess I was surprised not only at the number, but at the quality of the proposals and by how much they collaborated,” he said.
The 21st Century Jobs Fund is administered by the MEDC as part of the Granholm administration’s Jobs Today, Jobs Tomorrow plan to grow and diversify Michigan’s economy. The Fund supports state commercialization, capital investment, and commercial lending efforts to help convert research efforts into products and services that can succeed in the marketplace. The initiative targets life sciences, alternative energy, homeland security/defense and advanced automotive, manufacturing and materials.
Epolito also said that the 21st Century Jobs Fund opens up a new line of capital and assistance for entrepreneurs in the state. He believes that is very important if only because there are so few venture capitalists and angel investors in Michigan, compared to the east and west coasts of the United States.
“When we do get VC money in this state, in a lot of circumstances, once the company is up and running it is forced to move to either California or Boston,” he said. “With this program, these dollars are going to be invested in Michigan commercialization projects. And these businesses are going to be staying in Michigan.”
The MEDC received full proposals and accompanying letters of financial commitment for each of the 505 projects. Epolito said that 164 of the projects involve the life sciences. Another 144 are in advanced automotive, manufacturing and materials, 81 others involve homeland security and defense and 45 more are in alternative energy. An additional 71 proposals cover multiple areas in commercialization services.
The newly created Strategic Economic Investment and Commercialization Board will make awards to the winners no later than July 31.
A second round of competition for funding from the 21st Century Jobs Fund is scheduled to begin in the June-July time frame this year and will conclude in December-January.
Granholm and Epolito made the 21st Century Jobs Fund announcement as they led a delegation of Michigan life sciences leaders to the BIO 2006 Conference in Chicago. The Michigan group is focused on telling the state’s life sciences story to close to 20,000 participants from around the world that are expected to attend the conference.
BIO 2006 is the place to be for any 50 states – and they all are- trying to attract new bio-science investment. It has been described as the world’s largest gathering of researchers, CEOs, investors and suppliers with an interest in biotechnology.
Epolito said that he has noticed a different attitude on the convention floor. He believes that Michigan is beginning to get more respect from the life sciences arena and gives the organization, MichBio much of the credit for that.
“There are so many people that don’t understand what we have in Michigan,” he said. “MichBio is doing a really great job of bringing that to the forefront.”
This story was written by Mitechnews.Com staff writer Rod Kackley, who covers Southeast Michigan. If you have story ideas for Kackley, you can email him at Rod_Kackley@yahoo.com