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Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund - Submit a Business Plan

Overview | Portfolio | Student Team | Advisors | Student Application | Submit a Plan

Investment Criteria/Process

To be considered for an investment by the Fund, projects will need to meet the Fund's criteria for investment. Primarily, projects must:

  • Be driven by founders who are committed to building a successful enterprise and recruiting managers with the skills to do so.
  • Support technologies or products that are advanced, proprietary (if applicable), and have evidence from prospective customers that they meet a large unmet market need or provide at least an order of magnitude performance improvement compared to existing solutions.
  • Have a U-M or local Ann Arbor connection. Founders seeking to commercialize technology or products owned by the University should contact the University's Office of Technology Transfer prior to submitting an application.

Applying for Funding
The application deadline for funding in the 2013-2014 year is November 30, 2013. Interested companies must complete short application by the deadline to be considered for funding by May 2014. The Fund reviews submissions on an ongoing basis, with priority to those that were submitted before the application deadline.
The Zell Lurie Fund application process is outlined below:

October - December: Applications are received and evaluated. Applicants will be contacted to set up a meeting to clarify details on the application form.

November - January: The screening/evaluation process continues. The Fund initiates the due diligence process to evaluate the firm's commercial viability. The Fund will conduct 2-3 more meetings with each company.

January - February: The Fund presents selected investment opportunities to the board and discusses the terms of investment with the proposing entity.

March - April: Fund makes final investment decision.

Due to limited resources, we are unable to fund all Zell Lurie Fund applicants. Nonetheless, companies in which we choose not to invest are encouraged to reapply next year.

Benefits for University Inventors
Zell Lurie Fund teams will seek opportunities where they can work closely with inventors to help identify the key milestones necessary to demonstrate the idea’s utility and market potential and position the idea to receive investment capital in the future. With the advice and counsel of the Fund Advisory Board, the student teams will apply their skills and wealth of experience to analyzing the commercialization potential of each project. Inventors and founders with high-potential ideas will receive assistance from the students in the development of their plan for commercialization. Finalists (one or two per sector) will, in addition to being considered for an investment, receive the benefit of the Zell Lurie Fund team's recommendation of the optimal path to commercialization and have the opportunity to present their business plan to the team and its advisory board, which includes a number of successful angel investors and venture capitalists.

Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the size of the typical Zell Lurie Fund investment?
The fund typically initially invests $15,000-$80,000, with the possibility for a follow on investment for a total of $100,000 in funding. Each investment opportunity will be evaluated individually to determine the appropriate investment amount. The Fund is also happy to make smaller initial investments to help get a team started on the path to commercialization.

2. What is the Zell Lurie Fund Application Process?

The Zell Lurie Fund application process is outlined below:

  • September - January : Applications are received and evaluated. Applicants will be contacted to set up a meeting to clarify details on the application form.

  • January - March: The screening/evaluation process continues. Zell Lurie Fund initiates the due diligence process to evaluate the firm's commercial viability. The Fund will conduct 2-3 more meetings with each company.

  • January - March: Zell Lurie Fund presents selected investment opportunities to the board and discusses the terms of investment with the proposing entity.

  • February - April: Zell Lurie Fund presents each investment opportunity to the Board for final approval.

Due to limited resources, we are unable to fund all Zell Lurie Fund applicants. Nonetheless, companies in which we choose not to invest are encouraged to reapply next year.

3. Is the information shared with the Zell Lurie Fund kept confidential?
All fund members have signed umbrella non-disclosure agreements with the University of Michigan that prevents transfer of university information to outsides side sources. For entrepreneurs with ideas not under the university umbrella, the student members will make their best effort to keep confidential all information shared during evaluation.

4. What value does the Zell Lurie Fund student team bring to the company?
The Zell Lurie Fund team will be actively involved in due diligence, which will include assessing business risks and the IP landscape, conducting a market size assessment, speaking to customers, etc. The goal of the analysis is to determine the feasibility for commercialization and the key success factors for raising capital for the proposed venture in the future. The fund will provide the company their findings and feedback which will be very useful for making decisions about how to position the company for success.

Students on the Zell Lurie Fund will reserve the option to attend company board meetings for up to one year after investment. If needed, Fund members will be available to provide strategic business expertise. One of the most important benefits of working on an investment with the Zell Lurie Fund is the experience it will provide to facilitate future financings, prticularly with venture capital firms.

5. What is the role of the Zell Lurie Fund Advisory Board?
The Zell Lurie Fund Advisory board consists of successful local entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and business consultants. The board serves as advisors, providing the team members with guidance and feedback during the due-diligence and firm evaluation process. Finalists in the Zell Lurie Fund investment process will have an opportunity to present to the board and hear their feedback.

6. How is the Zell Lurie Fund different from the Wolverine Fund?
While both the Zell Lurie Fund and the Wolverine Venture Fund are student-directed, the Zell Lurie Fund differs in a few important ways:

  • The Zell Lurie Fund is focused on commercializing technologies and supporting business opportunities in and around with the University of Michigan whereas the Wolverine Venture Fund will invest in companies from around the country.
  • The Zell Lurie Fund invests in earlier stage companies
  • The Zell Lurie Fund typically may invest before venture investors participate whereas the Wolverine Venture Fund almost always invests in a syndicate with other venture funds.

7. What are the terms of the Zell Lurie Fund investment? Does the Zell Lurie Fund take an equity stake in the company?
The Zell Lurie Fund makes investments in exchange for equity in the opportunity. The preferred investment instrument is convertible debt. Convertible debt (A loan that entitles the lender (or the holder of loan debenture) to convert the loan to common or preferred stock (ordinary or preference shares) at a specified conversion rate and within a specified timeframe) is commonly used in early stage investments when the value of the idea is not easily determined. Simply put, the dollar amount invested will convert to equity on the next round of funding.

We would be happy to discuss the nature and specifics of convertible debt with any prospective investment.

8. How can I learn more about the Zell Lurie Fund?
The Zell Lurie Fund is available to speak to inventors/entrepreneurs through out the year. At any time, please feel free to contact us at zlcfquestions@umich.edu.

Please send questions to zlcfquestions@umich.edu and submit an application here. The Zell Lurie Fund investment teams will review and respond to submissions within three weeks of receipt of the application.

Michigan Business School