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Sunday, 09 October 2016 20:00

Venture capital fixated on West Michigan in Q3

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Hop Head Farms in Hickory Corners. Hop Head Farms in Hickory Corners. Photo: Joe Boomgaard

Four of the top five investments by venture capital firms in the state went to West Michigan companies in the third quarter.

Among them was a $4 million investment by an unnamed angel investor in Hickory Corners-based Hop Head Farms LLC, located 22 miles northeast of Kalamazoo. The investment in the 200-acre hop farm closed Aug. 23, according to a quarterly report on VC activity published by the National Venture Capital Association and Pitchbook.com.

Hop Head Farms, which is owned by South Bend, Ind.-based Ceres Partners LLC, plans to use the investment to expand by 300 acres over three years, according to a report by the Boston Business Journal.

Among the clients that Hop Head Farms lists on its website are Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo-based Bell’s Brewery Inc., the two largest breweries in the state.

Other notable VC deals involving West Michigan companies in the third quarter were:

Vestaron Corp., a Kalamazoo-based developer of a bio-pesticide based on spider venom that closed in August on an $18 million Series D investment. The company will use the investment to build a distribution and sales channel directly to ornamental and vegetable greenhouses.

• Nearly $7.5 million in Series B funding for Grand Rapids software development firm Blue Medora LLC.

• $5 million for Tetra Discovery Partners LLC in Grand Rapids to support the ongoing clinical trials for a new drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Venture capitalists during the quarter also invested $1 million in Handstand Innovations LLC, a Grand Rapids-based manufacturer of checkstand belts and other products that offer advertising surfaces for retailers. An investment for an undisclosed amount went to Grand Rapids-based PhotoUp Inc., which offers photo editing software for professional real estate photographers.

Buoy76 LLC, a Grand Rapids-based software company, also received an undisclosed investment. Buoy76 developed Sportsman Tracker, a mobile app that forecasts the best time and location for hunters and anglers, as well as their probability of success.

Statewide, Michigan had 18 venture capital deals in the third quarter of 2016, totaling $118.8 million. That compares with 21 venture deals for $58 million in the second quarter of 2016, and 25 deals for $160 million in the third quarter of 2015, according to Pitchbook.com data.

A large portion of the third-quarter money went to Protean Electric, a Shanghai, China-based company with operations in Troy that’s developing an in-wheel electric drive system for vehicles. The company closed in July on a $70 million venture investment, which represented the largest in the state during the quarter.

Nationwide, venture capitalists put nearly $15 billion into more than 1,800 companies from July to September, according to Pitchbook.com.

Through the first nine months of the year, some 6,000 companies received venture investment of more than $56 billion. The software sector accounted for nearly half of the total with $27 billion invested in 2,122 companies through the third quarter.

Read 2924 times Last modified on Friday, 07 October 2016 11:31

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