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Posted on Mon, Mar 14, 2011 : 3:37 p.m.

Business incubator at University of Michigan's ex-Pfizer site getting another startup tenant

By Nathan Bomey

The University of Michigan's startup business incubator is quickly filling up with tech companies launched by faculty members.

Wolverine Energy Solutions and Technology Inc. will become the latest tenant at the university's Venture Accelerator, which officially opened in January in a 16,000-square-foot space at the ex-Pfizer campus in northern Ann Arbor.

The U-M Board of Regents on Thursday is expected to approve a 12-month lease for Wolverine Energy, which is developing new organic materials to improve energy storage.

U-M formed the Venture Accelerator to give its own startup companies a boost. Low-cost, high-tech incubator space can make a big difference in the development of young companies.

Among the other companies renting space at the Venture Accelerator are Life Magnetics, Phrixus Pharmaceuticals, 3D Biomatrix, Civionics and EngXT.

The university is charging $2,150 per month for a "half bay" of lab space and $200 per month for a small office.

The Venture Accelerator is located alongside U-M's Technology Transfer Center and Business Engagement Center at the North Campus Research Complex, which is now populated with about 600 workers.

Ken Nisbet, executive director of the Tech Transfer Office, which runs the Venture Accelerator, has said the incubator could eventually have 15 to 20 startups. They are expected to stay at the incubator anywhere from 12 months to 36 months and, ideally, grow to the stage where they can move out and establish their own offices.

“We’re thinking about half of them would like to be here,” Nisbet said in a recent interview. “When they launch, hopefully they’re going to be far more sustainable and grow quicker and have an economic impact.” Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Tue, Mar 15, 2011 : 1 p.m.

Bravo to UM. Any company at that facility will be an improvement over Pfizer whose ethics went beyond questionable. 2009: Pfizer paid a $2.3 billion dollar fine for pushing drugs for unapproved uses - criminal and civil charges. Let's hope this incubator will produce some useful drugs instead of the usual pharma company drugs: the 'me too' drugs and such great drugs as viagra.


Tue, Mar 15, 2011 : 1:06 a.m.

". . . tech companies launched by faculty members?" Our tax dollars at work? Or a simple case of wealth redistribution? Sorry, any start-up proceeding without the tutelage and harsh discipline of a private sector investor, who is operating with his own money, means that I must remain highly suspicious of the true intent of these type of operations.