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New Student-Run Frankel Fund Is Ready to Invest in U-M Startups

2/20/2006 --

Ross School student teams will help U-M inventors in health care and technology bring their ideas to the marketplace.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The Frankel Commercialization Fund, a new student-run venture capital fund at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, has selected its first two MBA student teams and is now looking to invest in early-stage companies.

"The Frankel Fund will bring together business students interested in new company creation and product commercialization with other talented University of Michigan students, faculty and researchers who have great ideas but often lack the experience or knowledge required to get their ideas to the marketplace," said Thomas S. Porter, director of the fund and executive-in-residence at the Ross School's Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. "We are very pleased with the quality and prior experience of the students who have been chosen to participate in this exciting new program."

The two student teams, one specializing in health care opportunities and the other in technology, will each have about $60,000 in the first year to use as seed funding for an inventor with an idea or technology that has the potential to become a sizeable and rapidly growing company or product line. The teams also will work closely with the U-M Office of Technology Transfer for University-owned ideas that are in the process of commercialization.

"The teams will seek opportunities where they can work closely with inventors to help identify the key milestones necessary to demonstrate an idea's utility and market potential and then position the idea to receive investment capital in the future," Porter said.

Members of the technology team include Gregg Hammerman, R.L. Harrison, Carl Timm and Alkinoos Vayanos. The health care team includes Mark Delong, Jafar Hasan, Scott Peterson, Michael Tarasev and Alex Zhu.

The Frankel Fund also has formed an advisory board, made up of alumni and supporters of the Ross School who have been successful in developing early-stage companies, markets and technologies, Porter said.

"This is a dream advisory board having had experience ranging from company formation to public offerings," he said. "The board will provide the Frankel teams with expertise, experience, contacts and mentoring to maximize team learning, to provide a sounding board for their decision-making, and to help insure their team's success."

Board members include: Jim Adox, general partner of Ridge Line Ventures; Mary Campbell, managing director of EDF Ventures; Larry Hagerty, former president of Thomson Medstat; Al Kortesoya, former vice president of Critical Technologies Group, Cap Gemini/Ernst & Young; Roger Newton, founder and CEO of Esperion and now director of Esperion Division of Pfizer; Ken Nisbet, director of the U-M Office of Technology Transfer; Chuck Salley, former president of the IT Zone; Lisa Shapiro, president of Shapiro Solutions; Shelby Solomon, president of Etas, North American Division of Bosch; Ron Weiser, founder of McKinley Properties and former Ambassador to Slovakia; and Jeff Williams, president and CEO of Handylabs Inc.

The Frankel Fund Fellows Program is directed by Porter, who has had a successful career as a venture capitalist forming and investing in early-stage technology companies. He co-founded Ann Arbor-based EDF Ventures, where he founded four companies from technology developed at the U-M. He serves on the U-M's National Technology Transfer Board and the board of directors for IntraLase Corp. (NASDAQ: ILSE), a company that evolved from a collaboration of the U-M Medical School and College of Engineering's Center for Ultrafast Optical Science. He also has been an adjunct lecturer at the Ross School since 1994 and has sat on the school's Corporate Advisory Board since 1993.

Companies and individuals interested in applying for funding from the Frankel program must apply by March 15 to be considered for investment by May and by Oct. 15 to be considered by the end of 2006.

For more information, send questions to or see the Frankel Fund Overview. To download an application form, see Frankel Fund Application Form. Completed applications should be sent to

For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat
Phone:(734) 936-1015 or 647-1847