UM Zell Lurie Fund Invests In Protein Test Developer

ANN ARBOR — An investment fund led by University of Michgian students has invested in a healthcare company developing a cheaper, faster and more accurate test for multiple proteins from a single patient sample.

Phasiq Inc. was founded by Shuichi Takayama, professor of biomedical engineering and macromolecular science and engineering at the Univesrity of Michigan.

The investment fund comes from the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund, a pre-seed investment fund established to identify and accelerate the commercialization of technology generated within the UM community and surrounding area. It focuses on healthcare, technology, consumer products and cleantech.

The Zell Lurie Fund is one of four student-led investment funds at UM that operate under the direction of the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business. The others are the flagship Wolverine Venture Fund, the UM Social Venture Fund and newly-formed Zell Early-Stage Fund.

“The student team involved in the Phasiq investment has done a phenomenal job of identifying a company that’s technology is blossoming and is clearly ready for commercialization,” said Stewart Thornhill, managing director of the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund and executive director of the Zell Lurie Institute. “We’re excited to see what is in store for Phasiq and are confident that it will be a solid addition to our already strong portfolio.”

Phasiq provides scientists and clinicians with a cost- and time-efficient way of identifying multiple proteins in one culture sample, giving them a holistic view of the overall picture of a person’s health. This allows scientists to quickly and more easily complete research to develop new drugs and enables clinicians to test for and diagnose multiple diseases at the same time. The company intends to use the funds to automate its manufacturing process to allow for scalable production of the finished first product.

A team of five graduate students — Kunal Rambhia, PhD ‘17, Alexandra Pulst-Korenberg, MBA’15, Don Rauscher, MBA ’16, Kaitlyn Norman, PhD ‘17 and Pavel Azgaldov, MBA ‘16 — conducted due diligence on the company, which included multiple meetings with Phasiq’s new CEO, Francis Glorie. Based on those conversations, the team felt confident that Phasiq’s technology was ready for commercialization and has been working over the course of the past few months to finalize the investment.

“My time as part of the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund, particularly my recent experience working with Phasiq, has been extremely rewarding,” Rambhia said. “There is no better way to learn than to work with real people at a real company and evaluate the new products they’re developing.”

“The opportunity to work on a student-led fund at the Institute is a valuable way for students to make an impact by investing in local startups and learn a lot in the process,” said Matt Ross, managing student director of the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund. “Phasiq passed through our rigorous due diligence process and we’re thrilled to support the commercialization of what we see as a potentially game-changing platform technology.”

The Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund’s investment in Phasiq is the first time the fund has used a “safe” (simple agreement for future equity) investment, a relatively new investment vehicle that came out of Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley seed fund started in 2005 that provides a simple agreement between investor and entrepreneur.

“Our technology has the potential to change the face of healthcare by providing scientists with the tools they need to exceed even their own expectations,” Glorie said. “We’re grateful that the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund has recognized that notion and are looking forward to what’s in store for the future as we head into commercialization.”

More about Phasiq at http://phasiq.bio/. More about the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund at http://www.zli.bus.umich.edu/wvf/zlcf_fund.asp. More about the Zell Lurie institute at http://www.zli.bus.umich.edu.

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