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Wolverine Venture Fund Participates in $25 Million Series D Investment

6/1/2012 --

Student-led fund partners with leading global VC firms to make second investment in medical device company Sonitus Medical.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Wolverine Venture Fund, managed by students at the Ross School's Samuel Zell and Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, has invested in Sonitus Medical, a medical device company that manufactures the world's first non-surgical and removable hearing device to transmit sound via the teeth. The $25 million Series D round of venture capital financing was led by Abingworth and also included investments by Arboretum Ventures and Novartis BioVentures. The Wolverine Venture Fund first invested in Sonitus in March 2011.

Sonitus Medical is a leader in the bone conduction hearing device category, an emerging, distinct market that is differentiated from both the hearing aid and cochlear implant segments. The company's non-invasive hearing system is a prosthetic device that makes novel use of the established principle of bone conduction by transmitting sound via the teeth and thereby replacing the function of the impaired ear. It already has received FDA 510(k) clearance for two indications, single-sided deafness and conductive hearing loss.

"We are pleased to receive a large round with attractive terms to further validate our leadership position in the bone conduction hearing device category," said Amir Abolfathi, CEO of Sonitus Medical. "The Wolverine Venture Fund is part of a strong group of investors with an impressive track record. I was amazed with the trust the University places in the students to make these investments and consider it a model more business schools should embrace to foster entrepreneurship and smart investing."

The $5.5 million Wolverine Venture Fund was the country's first student-led venture fund and, together with the Frankel Commercialization Fund and the Social Venture Fund, epitomizes the Zell Lurie Institute's action-based approach to entrepreneurial education. Since its inception, the Wolverine Venture Fund has invested in more than 20 companies in a wide range of innovative industries such as information technology, life sciences, and alternative energy. A team of six students, representing both MBAs and PhDs, spearheaded the investment in Sonitus Medical, including conducting all necessary due diligence, negotiation, and collaboration with other investors.

"We are pleased to again invest in a company that is changing people's lives by giving them the joy of hearing," said Erik Gordon, clinical assistant professor of entrepreneurial studies, associate director of the Zell Lurie Institute, and managing director of the Wolverine Venture Fund. "This round has also been a tremendous experience for the students who oversaw the process. They were not only able to see the rapid progression of a portfolio company in the past year and participate in its latest financing, but they also got to collaborate on the deal with some very good, well-established venture capital firms from around the world."

"We were given a seat at the table with experienced investors representing firms here in Michigan, from the coasts, and overseas, and invested real money that is going to make a meaningful difference for the company and those with hearing loss and single-sided deafness," said Wolverine Venture Fund member and joint MD/PhD student Nicholas Douville. "Being a part of the Wolverine Venture Fund's second investment in Sonitus Medical was an invaluable experience and one that simply can't be matched in a classroom setting."

Mary Nickson



For more information, contact:
Mary Nickson, (734) 615-4424, mnickson@umich.edu