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Frankel Fund is Looking to Invest in U-M Startups

12/4/2006 --

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 student-run venture capital seed fund at the University of Michigan's Stephen M. Ross School of Business, seeks to invest in early-stage companies.

"The Frankel Fund brings together business students interested in new company creation and product commercialization with talented U-M 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 the Ross School's executive-in-residence.

Two student teams, one specializing in health care opportunities and the other in technology, each have about $60,000 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 work closely with the U-M Office of Technology Transfer for university-owned ideas that are in the process of commercialization.

"The teams are seeking 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, four of whom have started their own businesses and seven of whom have degrees in engineering, computer science or materials sciences, include Punit Chiniwalla, Jason Dishlip, Thomas Fry, Gregg Hammerman, Brendan Lippman, Heath Silverman, Carl Timm, Michael Urcan and Alkinoos Vayanos.

The health care team includes Travis Coy, Mark Delong, Delara Godrej, Andrew Hastings, Scott Peterson, Anjani Shaw and Michael Tarasev. All members have degrees in life sciences and three have founded their own companies.

The Frankel Fund's advisory board, made up of alumni and supporters of the Ross School who have been successful in developing early-stage companies, markets and technologies, provides the student teams with expertise and mentoring to maximize learning and to help insure success.

Board members include: Jim Adox, general partner of Ridge Line Ventures; Mary Campbell, managing director of EDF Ventures; Tony Grover, general partner of RPM Ventures; Larry Hagerty, former president of Thomson Medstat; David Hartmann, vice president/general manager of Sycamore Networks; 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, former president of Etas, North American Division of Bosch; and Ron Weiser, founder of McKinley Properties and former ambassador to Slovakia.

The Frankel Commercialization Fund 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 started four companies from technology developed at the U-M. He serves on the board of directors for IntraLase Corp. (NASDAQ: ILSE) and Incept BioSystems, and co-chairs the Michigan University Commercialization Initiative. He also has been an adjunct lecturer at the Ross School since 1994 and has served on the school's Corporate Advisory Board since 1993.

Companies and individuals interested in funding from the Frankel Fund must apply by Jan. 15, 2007, to be considered for investment by May 2007. Companies that applied in 2006 are encouraged to re-apply in 2007.

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

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