Published in Finance

VC firms invested $7 million in West Michigan firms during fourth quarter

BY Friday, January 17, 2020 12:26pm

West Michigan companies secured a collective $7 million in later-stage venture capital during the fourth quarter, as investments in Michigan reached a new high.

In Grand Rapids, VNN Inc., which provides hundreds of high schools across the country with a web-based platform to distribute content on sports programs, closed Nov. 11 on a $4 million round, according to a quarterly report from Pitchbook.com and the National Venture Capital Association. MessageWrap LLC, a maker of antimicrobial conveyor belts for store checkout lanes that carry advertising, closed Dec. 3 on a $1 million investment.

Ara Topouzian, executive director of the Michigan Venture Capital Association COURTESY PHOTO

Portage-based Micro Laser Assisted Machining Technologies LLC, or Micro LAM, received a $2 million investment that closed Nov., 5 according to the Pitchbook Venture Monitor data for the fourth quarter.

Statewide, fourth quarter venture capital investments in Michigan totaled $147.1 million across 25 deals, with most of the funding going to firms based in the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas, according to Pitchbook.

For all of 2019, Michigan saw 115 deals for $771.6 million. That compares to 126 deals for $458.4 million in 2018.

The amount invested in the state in 2019 topped the previous best year in 2015, when venture capital firms invested $507.3 million in 135 deals.

The findings show that Michigan continues to make progress in building a broader venture capital industry, said Ara Topouzian, executive director of the Michigan Venture Capital Association.

“2019 was a great year. We all thought it would be a great year. I think we just keep continuing to build on the momentum that Michigan has,” Topouzian said. “We’re a great state for innovation. More people need to realize that.”

Nationwide, venture capital investments in 2019 totaled $136.5 billion across 10,777 deals. The amount is off slightly from the $140.2 billion in 10,542 deals in 2018, the best year ever for the U.S. venture capital industry, but marks the second year in a row that the dollar value topped $100 billion.

“2019 showed that industry trends from the historic 2018 (investments) are the new normal for the venture industry, with mega-rounds and mega-funds becoming increasingly common trends in the startup ecosystem,” NVCA President and CEO Bobby Franklin said in a news release. “While there are lingering uncertainties surrounding global macroeconomic trends, U.S. public policies, and the 2020 election that could impact the industry, the flood of exit dollars going back to LPs, the robust fundraising environment, and large amounts of dry powder available at many venture firms should allow the industry to sustain this new level of investment activity in 2020.”

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