Pioneering Student Investment
Recognized as a leader in entrepreneurial education, the University of Michigan is the only academic institution in the country to run four student venture funds simultaneously, providing a unique experiential learning opportunity to students. The four unique student-led funds are overseen by the Zell Lurie Institute at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business: the Social Venture Fund, the Wolverine Venture Fund, the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund, and the Zell Early-Stage Fund.
Innovation in entrepreneurial funding at the university began in 1997, when the Ross School of Business pioneered the first student-led venture fund in the nation, the Wolverine Venture Fund (WVF). Since its inception, over 200 students have participated in WVF and launched careers at top-tier venture capital firms, investment banks, consulting firms, tech startups, medical device and life sciences companies. The Wolverine Venture Fund currently has over $7 million in assets under management.
The second fund at the university, the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund
(ZLCF), is a pre-seed investment fund, which began as an endowment in 2005. The ZLCF was created to accelerate the commercialization of ideas generated within the university community and the surrounding area. The Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund team adopts a hands-on approach to investing that leverages the talents and resources available at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan to make a real impact for the entrepreneur and
Continuing in the same pioneering spirit, Zell Lurie launched the Social Venture Fund(SvF) in 2009. As the first student-run social venture fund in the country, SvFprovides an unparalleled action-based learning experience, which places equal importance on maximizing financial returns and socially/environmentally-driven venture investing and entrepreneurship. In 2012, it was the first student social venture fund to invest in a socially-driven organization.
Through a recent gift to the Institute, the Zell Early-Stage Fund was formed in 2015. Modeled on ZLI's Wolverine Venture Fund and the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund, the Zell Early-Stage Fund is a venture capital and pre-venture capital investment fund operated by Ross BBA students, under the supervision of the Fund's Faculty Managing Director. Mirroring the other University funds, the Zell Early-Stage Fund invests real money in real deals.
Throughout the process of managing the funds, students gain real world investment experience though researching and investing in innovative startups in the region and throughout the country. The opportunity to work on a student-led fund at the Zell Lurie Institute allows students to make an impact through investing in startups while learning the process of early-stage funding. Students finish the programs ready to launch their own companies, become investors, or gain employment through a startup - all while fostering economic development.