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Varnum Contributes to Program Focused On Building Clean Tech Entrepreneurs in Michigan

July 20, 2011

An intensive, five-day course designed to teach potential technology entrepreneurs how to turn clean technology ideas and research into business ventures will be offered for the first time in the Midwest next week.

The Michigan Green Technology Entrepreneurship Academy (MI-GTEA) is specifically designed for and offered to science and engineering faculty, post doctoral students and PhD students from Michigan universities who want to learn how to commercialize their cleantech research, prepare for a career in industry, or take the first steps toward launching a new venture.

MI-GTEA is being offered as a result of a unique partnership between Huron River Ventures (HRV), the Growth Capital Network (GCN) and Grand Valley State University's (GVSU) Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. GVSU is hosting the academy, which will be held July 25th through 29th at the Pew Grand Rapids Campus.

The academy will be taught by local and national venture capitalists, industry experts and university faculty. MI-GTEA, based on a similar program pioneered by the University of California-Davis, combines a comprehensive curriculum focused on starting a cleantech business with hands-on exercises, extensive mentoring sessions and an unparalleled networking opportunity for science and engineering researchers.

One session in the MI-GTEA curriculum will be taught by attorneys from Varnum, whose recently-launched MiSpringboard program is providing $1 million in free legal services to entrepreneurs and growing businesses.

"The MI-GTEA program dovetails nicely with the mission of MiSpringboard, which is helping entrepreneurs put their bright ideas to work," said Varnum Managing Partner Larry Murphy. "Our commitment includes support of entrepreneurial programs at Michigan colleges and universities, and MI-GTEA certainly fits that criterion."

Varnum is a lead sponsor of MI-GTEA along with investment firms DTE Energy, Early Stage Partners, Flagship Ventures, Nth Power, RPM Ventures; the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship, Butzel Long, BDO and Miller Johnson.

Huron River Ventures is the only Michigan-based venture fund with an exclusive focus on cleantech. “We believe Michigan is well positioned to be a global leader in the cleantech sector. MI-GTEA is intended to encourage and support the next class of Michigan’s technology entrepreneurs as they prepare to launch new cleantech enterprises in our state,” said Tim Streit, Managing Director at HRV.

The academy is also underwritten in part by a grant from the Michigan Initiative for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a consortium of all 15 Michigan public universities working together to foster a new knowledge economy based on entrepreneurship and innovation.

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