University of Michigan’s Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund Invests in PHASIQ

Shannon Beeman
September 18, 2015

The Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund, in collaboration with the Zell Lurie Institute today announced that it has invested in PHASIQ, a healthcare company that provides a cheaper, faster, and more accurate solution to test for multiple proteins on a single patient sample. The Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund is the first and only institutional investor to contribute to the round.

The Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund is a pre-seed investment fund established to identify and accelerate the commercialization of ideas generated within the University community and the surrounding area with a focus on healthcare, technology, consumer and cleantech. It is one of four student-led investment funds at the University that operates under the direction of the Zell Lurie Institute, which also include the flagship Wolverine Venture Fund, Social Venture Fund and newly-formed Zell Early-Stage Fund. The team adopts a hands-on approach to investing that leverages the talents and resources available at the Ross School of Business to make a real impact for the entrepreneur and the University. The Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund currently has ten active investments.

“The student team involved in the PHASIQ investment has done a phenomenal job of identifying a company that’s technology is blossoming and is clearly ready for commercialization,” said Stewart Thornhill, managing director of the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund and executive director of the Zell Lurie Institute. “We’re excited to see what is in store for PHASIQ and are confident that it will be a solid addition to our already strong portfolio.”

Founded by Shuichi Takayama, professor of biomedical engineering and macromolecular science and engineering, and member of the Biointerfaces Institute and Center for Integrative Research in Critical Care at the University of Michigan, PHASIQ provides scientists and clinicians with a cost- and time-efficient way of identifying multiple proteins in one culture sample, giving them a holistic view of the overall picture of a person’s health. This allows scientists to quickly and more easily complete research to develop new drugs and enables clinicians to test for and diagnose multiple diseases at the same time. The company intends to use the funds to automate its manufacturing process to allow for scalable production of the finished first product.

A team of five graduate students—Kunal Rambhia PhD ‘17, Alexandra Pulst-Korenberg MBA’15, Don Rauscher MBA ’16, Kaitlyn Norman PhD ‘17 and Pavel Azgaldov MBA ‘16—conducted in-depth due diligence on the company, which included multiple meetings with PHASIQ’s new CEO, Francis Glorie. Based on those conversations, the team felt confident that PHASIQ’s technology was ready for commercialization and has been working over the course of the past few months to finalize the investment.

“My time as part of the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund, particularly my recent experience working with PHASIQ, has been extremely rewarding,” said Rambhia. “There is no better way to learn than to work with real people at a real company and evaluate the new products they’re developing.”

“The opportunity to work on a student-led fund at the Institute is a valuable way for students to make an impact by investing in local startups and learn a lot in the process,” said Matt Ross, managing student director of the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund. “PHASIQ passed through our rigorous due diligence process and we’re thrilled to support the commercialization of what we see as a potentially game-changing platform technology.”

The Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund’s investment in PHASIQ is the first time the fund has used a “safe” (simple agreement for future equity) investment, a relatively new investment vehicle that came out of Y Combinator and provides a simple agreement between investor and entrepreneur. Though safes have already been put to use among San Francisco investors, it has only recently been adopted in other parts of the country, putting the Institute and the Fund ahead of the national curve.

“Our technology has the potential to change the face of healthcare by providing scientists with the tools they need to exceed even their own expectations,” said Francis Glorie, CEO, PHASIQ. “We’re grateful that the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund has recognized that notion and are looking forward to what’s in store for the future as we head into commercialization.”