Since joining Flagship Ventures in 2012 as an associate in its Ann Arbor office, Michael Johnson has leveraged his University of Michigan medical and business degrees and entrepreneurial experience to help the Cambridge, Massachusetts-headquartered venture-capital firm pursue new investment opportunities in start-up companies focused on medical technology, therapeutics and sustainability.
“This is an exciting time to be a venture investor in Ann Arbor, a city where I’ve spent a number of years as a student and entrepreneur,” says Johnson, who earlier co-founded Converge Medical Technologies while he was a Fellow at the U-M Medical Innovation Center. “The combination of passionate entrepreneurs, outstanding research and academic institutions and strong state support ─ coupled with a growing, smart investment community ─ makes Michigan an attractive place to launch and build a business.”
At the end of 2012, Flagship and Arboretum Ventures led the Series B round of funding in Ann Arbor medical-device company Tangent Medical Technologies, which is rolling out its FDA-cleared NovaCath™ Integrated IV Catheter System in the commercial sales market. In 2011, Flagship initially invested in the Series A round in the U-M spinout led by Jeff Williams, a Ross School of Business graduate and serial entrepreneur. “We are very enthusiastic about our investment in Tangent Medical,” says Johnson, who serves as a board observer at the start-up. “Tangent has an outstanding team and we believe its novel IV catheter solution will make a big difference for patients and clinicians.”
Flagship has been active in the Ann Arbor entrepreneurial ecosystem for a number of years. That activity includes its earlier investment in Accuri Cytometers, a U-M spinout that made high-performance bench-top flow cytometers for researchers. The company was acquired by Becton, Dickinson and Co. in March 2011, giving VCs a nice return on their investment dollars.
Johnson is on the lookout for new deals. “We’re evaluating a number of promising companies in Michigan,” he says. “As a member of the community, it’s been great to see the growing enthusiasm for investments in this state.”
The Michigan Growth Capital Symposium has done a lot to transform the state’s investment landscape by bringing entrepreneurs and investors together in what has become a nationally recognized event, according to Johnson. “If you look at the event’s history, the symposium has led to investments in many companies and put them on the pathway to success,” he says.