ANN ARBOR – Amazon has made the first corporate gift to the University of Michigan’s Accelerate Blue Fund, a philanthropic venture fund aimed at investing in and commercializing technologies developed at the U-M.
Accelerate Blue will make investments in U-M tech startups working on various technologies in areas like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, mobility and sustainability.
Investments in tech startups will range from $25,000 to $250,000. Returns on investments go back into the fund which creates a source for evergreen funding -- funding that is done incrementally.
Startups in the Midwest are behind when it comes to securing the initial $500,000 in investment capital and early-stage funding when compared to startups in other parts of the United States, according to the Accelerate Blue Fund website. The fund allows U-M nascent startups to have early-stage, risk-tolerant, high-impact capital which aids in commercializing their technologies and gaining additional monies.
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Through the $200,000 donation from Amazon, Accelerate Blue has collected around $1 million, half of its 2020 goal. After the initial $2 million is raised, the fund will begin to accept investment applications. It has an overall goal of raising $20 million dollars to invest as early capital.
The donation also makes Amazon a corporate member of the Accelerate Blue Founders’ Circle, a group of supporters that will have access to a curated portfolio of startups, portfolio company teams and University leadership.
Other Founders’ Circle members include Don Sweeney, CEO of Ashling Partners, his wife Erica Sweeny, and Rob Bronstein, president of The Scion Group.
The Accelerate Blue Fund was approved by the University’s Board of Regents in October 2019 and created by University of Michigan Tech Transfer, a U-M unit responsible for commercializing U-M research discoveries.