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Frankel Commercialization Fund - Current Portfolio

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Accio Energy 

Accio is an Ann Arbor based company that has developed a wind energy device that utilizes charged particles and wind to create electricity.  The proprietary “aerovoltaic” technology utilizes no moving parts and is both highly scalable and cost effective.  Accio Energy’s wind systems meet the need to expand wind energy to more locations, from rural to urban rooftop. 

“Accio plans to use the Frankel Investment to develop a prototype of its "aerovoltaic technology," which will utilize charged particles on a screen-like device to create electricity as wind passes over them. The devices could be built to various dimensions, from the size of a window to as large as a billboard,” according to Theo Ludwig, leader of the CleanTech Team making the investment.

The company, founded by a pair of mechanical engineers - Dawn White and David Carmein, founding team members of advanced materials company Solidica Inc., a portfolio company of North Coast Technology Investors - expects to launch the product in late next year.
Since the closing, the company has made significant progress forming a scientific advisory board, developing a partnership with a laboratory at the U of M for developing a model for the product, and developing an early alpha version of the product.  Two of the Frankel Fellows, Theo Ludwick and Nic Wetzler have done an excellent job following the company for the Frankel Fund and have learned much from attending Accio’s board meetings.

Ambiq Micro

 Ambiq Micro is developing next generation energy-efficient microcontrollers that have the potential to substantially extend the battery life of wireless devices. The technology could be used in smart credit cards, sensors that control temperature or detect motion in smart homes and buildings, and a variety of medical and mobile devices.
The University of Michigan-based Ambiq Micro was founded by Dennis Sylvester and David Blaauw, professors of electrical engineering and computer science at the University’s College of Engineering, and Scott Hanson, a post-doctoral Fellow at the College of Engineering who is currently serving as the company’s CEO.
 “This investment comes at a critical time for the company and will be essential in helping us to move quickly to capitalize on our opportunity,” said Hanson. “The support, networking and mentorship provided by the Frankel Fund have been critical in translating our ideas into a winning business plan, and now in helping Ambiq Micro to demonstrate its technology to customers.”
 The seed investment from the Frankel Fund comes on the heels of a $250,000 prize announced on July 1 by Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) and Cisco as part of their co-sponsored Global Business Plan Competition for university and business school students. The Frankel Fund investment, along with the DFJ/Cisco investment, will be used to support early product development and customer evaluation activities.

Arbor Photonics

Arbor Photonics is an Ann Arbor based company commercializing technology that originated in the U-M's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). Ann Arbor-based RPM Ventures, which invests in university spinouts and technology-focused companies that target customers based in the Midwest, led the initial round of financing.

Arbor Photonics and its chief science officer, EECS Professor Almantas Galvanauskas, have developed a novel scalable optical fiber technology that enables high-power fiber lasers to be used in a variety of new materials-processing applications in the automotive, electronics and aerospace industries while offering a lower-cost replacement to existing bulky laser systems. Led by Phillip Amaya, a 20-year veteran of the laser industry, Arbor Photonics used the Frankel seed money for customer identification, prototype development and assembly, and the development of engineering and manufacturing plans for the company. The company possesses a stellar team built around a disruptive, proprietary technology that meets a clear market need.

"We're very fortunate to find both the technological and financial seeds for our business at the University of Michigan," Amaya said upon closing the investment in December, 2007. "The Frankel Fund's early-stage investment plays a critical role in helping us transform the technology into a product demonstration and the business concept into a competitive strategy. The Frankel students are an impressive team to work with and we're looking forward to their continued participation in Arbor Photonics."

Since completion of the Seed Round in which the Frankel Fund participated, the Company closed an A Round in February of 2009 at a mark up for the Frankel Fund. The Ross School’s Wolverine Fund participated in the financing by means of exercising the Frankel Fund’s preemptive rights for participation in future investments.

The Frankel Fund has visiting rights to the Arbor Photonics Board Meetings and works closely with the company to provide whatever assistance it can to the management team.


BeholzTech Inc., was founded in Flint, Mich., by Lars Beholz, a visiting associate professor of chemistry at Kettering University. BeholzTech's technology effectively coats polyolefin plastics, making them easier to modify and adhere to other materials. Polyolefins are tiny plastic pellets that are used to make thousands of products we use everyday.

Prior to Beholz's innovation, the coating, bonding and chemical modification of polyolefin plastics was generally prohibitive due to the significant financial investment required and the potentially dangerous chemical byproducts created. BeholzTech's safer, cheaper and more effective technology to treat polyolefin plastics will enable the further use of polyolefins by the $110 billion plastics industry.

"We are really pleased to have been able to partner with the Frankel Fund," Beholz said at the time of the investment closing. "The money provided will be absolutely critical to enable BeholzTech to produce sample products with which to begin discussions with potential customers and future investors. Working with the Frankel Fund has been a great learning experience as I navigate the company through its startup phase."

BeholzTech has used the seed money for prototype development, customer identification, marketing plan development and the recruitment of key management personnel.


Surgimatix is a Chicago-based company founded by Dr. Jafar Hasan, a surgeon from the University of Michigan Hospital. Hasan, who recently completed his plastic surgery residency, is a graduate of U-M's joint MD/MBA program.

The Company has developed an innovative wound-closure device that combines the convenience of a surgical stapler with the aesthetic and closure strength benefits of manual sutures. This novel approach decreases the time of surgery, which saves operation costs and reduces scarring for patients.

Surgimatix intends to utilize the Frankel Fund seed money to fund pre-clinical testing, refine the clinical scale prototype design, and develop the resorbable fastener for the device. The Frankel Fund was formed to help accelerate commercialization of technology and the formation of companies at the U-M.

“We are excited about the opportunity to invest in a company founded by Dr. Hasan,” said Philip Kowalczyk, a member of the Frankel Fund’s Health Care Team. “We believe that the Surgimatix technology demonstrates his unique understanding of the need for a better suturing approach in combination with his business acumen.”

While studying for his MBA, Hasan was a member of the initial Frankel Fund team in 2006. “Working on the Frankel Fund provided me with hands-on experience in the areas of due diligence and commercialization,” stated Hasan. “As an entrepreneur, the Frankel Fund will be instrumental in helping us to move from an idea that demonstrates a health care breakthrough to a marketable product that could dramatically improve surgical recovery.”

Surgimatix completed pre-clinical testing of its new technology, showing significantly superior performance relative to competing wound closure methods in June 2010.

The Frankel Fund has visiting rights to the Surgimatix Board Meetings.

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