UM Growth Capital News: Baird Capital Builds a Pipeline of VC Investments in Michigan Start-ups

Shannon Beeman
March 4, 2014

Baird Capital is putting additional boots on the ground and strengthening its ties in Michigan, where it sees increasing opportunity to build a pipeline of venture-capital investments in high-growth start-up companies. In August 2013, the Chicago-based national investment firm hired veteran Ann Arbor entrepreneur David Gregorka, formerly the co-founder of HealthMedia Inc., to help source deals throughout the state. James Pavlik, a partner with Baird Capital’s venture capital group, reports he and other team members also are scouring the state for promising venture investments, particularly in the technology-enabled-services and health-care sectors.

“We’ve identified Michigan as a core market for us,” Pavlik says. “In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in both the volume and quality of entrepreneurial and start-up activity in the state, and we expect that to continue. Bringing David on board is a good indication of our strategic commitment and focus on the market, and we intend to allocate more time and resources to pursue additional investments in Michigan over the coming years.”

Baird is already engrained in the state’s venture community through its prior investments in Michigan-based companies ─ including medical-technology firm Accuri Cytometers, which was acquired by Becton, Dickinson and Co. in 2011─ and its current portfolio holdings, such as Molecular Imaging. Now, other out-of-state regional investors are beginning to follow suit.

“There is great momentum in the Michigan ecosystem,” Pavlik notes. “Not only is the local investment community growing more robust, but investors from outside the state are showing increasing interest and making investments. This is important for our industry, which requires a certain level of collaboration to fund and invest in high-growth companies.”

The Michigan Growth Capital Symposium has served as a catalyst in forging valuable connections among entrepreneurs, investors and supporting entities within the venture community, according to Pavlik. “The symposium is a great event that showcases up-and-coming start-ups and brings the VC community together,” he says. The state also helps to cultivate entrepreneurial companies through the billions of research dollars flowing through universities and corporations. In addition, it offers a strong base of engineering and technical talent, some of which has grown out of the automotive sector.

“Overall, we’re very bullish on the investment opportunity in Michigan,” Pavlik says. “We anticipate there will continue to be an increase in investment dollars flowing into the state over the next several years.”