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Week of August 12, 2013

Tech Transfer’s Venture Center hires new director

Jack Miner, an experienced entrepreneur, venture creation expert and economic development specialist, has been named director of the Venture Center at U-M Tech Transfer.

“We are all proud that our U-M Venture Center has earned a reputation for excellence for helping to launch dynamic new startups based on U-M technologies,” said Ken Nisbet, executive director of Tech Transfer. “We’re confident that Jack will provide the leadership to extend our effectiveness, to better serve our researchers, our entrepreneurs, our venture partners and our state.”

The goal of the Venture Center is to launch strong startup ventures and move them quickly to the marketplace, Miner said. He said he hopes to expand the center’s resources and effectiveness and extend our entrepreneurial collaborations across campus and throughout the state.

“It’s an honor to be able to provide leadership for the Venture Center at such an important time for our university and our state,” he said. “We have excellent research and investment opportunities, and I look forward to enhancing our capabilities, resources and partnerships to help launch even more high potential U-M startups.”

Miner, 51, has worked as a startup specialist within Tech Transfer since 2011, helping to form new ventures based on physical sciences intellectual property. He coordinated the development, formation, and funding of more than six startup companies launched within the last year while managing a portfolio of more than 20 other startup projects.

Prior to his role at U-M, Miner worked at TechTown in Detroit and was managing director of a Battle Creek business accelerator, Battle Creek Unlimited. Before that, he worked for seven venture-backed software companies (most of which exited through acquisition) as well as Fortune 100 information technology organizations, CA (Computer Associates) and Amdahl.

He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from U-M and a master’s degree in management from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

The Venture Center works with U-M inventors and the entrepreneurial community on promising startup concepts based on U-M technology. It provides a core staff of startup experts including a team of seasoned entrepreneurs called mentors-in-residence, and a comprehensive set of funding, talent and connection resources.

The Venture Center also includes the Venture Accelerator that opened in early 2011 at Tech Transfer’s offices in the North Campus Research Complex, providing space, services and resources for new startups. The accelerator now has 17 tenants with business models ranging from wireless sensors that help improve building energy efficiency to using a polymer mesh to grow human bones.

U-M already is among the top 10 U.S. universities in the number of startup companies it spins off — more than 98 in the past decade, or one every five weeks. Several U-M startups have achieved market success, including HealthMedia, HandyLab, Accuri, Arbor Networks, Ablation Frontier and, most recently, OncoMed Pharmaceuticals.

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