Open Prairie, an Illinois-based venture fund, announced today that it has entered into a management agreement with the Southwest Michigan First Life Science Fund.
The funds have collaborated for over five years on a number of investments, including Vestaron, a Kalamazoo-based agricultural company developing the next generation of environmentally conscious insecticides derived from peptides produced by spiders.
OPV was founded in 1999 and is headquartered in Effingham, Illinois with additional offices in Kansas and Southwest Michigan. OPV has successfully brought early stage ideas to syndicated investments and successful returns for its investors, including two Initial Public Offerings, the most recent of which was Infoblox (NASDAQ: BLOX).
In 2005, the SWMFLSF was formed as a limited partnership venture fund focusing on early stage life sciences opportunities in Southwest Michigan. Operating under the Southwest Michigan First Group of Companies, the fund’s primary goal has been to spur economic development and retain intellectual capital within the region.
With OPV now assuming an advisory role over both funds, the funds are expected to operate more dynamically and expand their investment focus.
“We are very excited about our new relationship with the SWMFLSF. We see great potential in assisting the Fund realize its vision and mission, as well as the opportunity to become more involved in the overall turnaround agenda in Michigan, ” said Jim Schultz, CEO and Founder of Open Prairie Ventures. “We look forward to working closely with the Fund’s portfolio companies and growing new opportunities in Michigan and throughout the Midwest. Realizing the vision of the Fund’s founders to develop an aggressive life science agenda in the region is key to our knowledge base and investor instincts.”
Patrick Morand, Managing Director of SWMFLSF, will remain in this role as well as assuming the role of President of Open Prairie Ventures.
“Our expanded relationship with OPV brings investment expertise and stronger syndication possibilities at a time when Southwest Michigan First is focusing its effort on increasing capital formation in the region. Where capital is available, great ideas follow and new companies will be formed. This investment cycle is crucial to growing the regional economy,” said Ron Kitchens, CEO of the Southwest Michigan First Group of Companies and the SWMFLSF’s General Partner. “We anticipate great performance from the investment team at OPV.”
About Open Prairie Ventures
Open Prairie Ventures was founded in 1999 as a venture capital firm focused on early-stage Midwest-based technology companies. The first investment fund, Open Prairie Ventures I, L.P. (OPV I), was formerly licensed by the Small Business Administration as a Small Business Investment Company (SBIC). In 2006, the fund recapitalized the SBA's Limited Partner interest in OPV I through a buyout of the SBA position. OPV I completed fifteen investments with four successful exits, including the 2007 IPO of TomoTherapy (NASDAQ: TOMO) and has three active portfolio investments remaining.
The firm's second fund, Open Prairie Ventures II, L.P. (OPV II), completed its first close in 2008. The primary focus of OPV II is growth and early-stage opportunities in the agriculture technology and medical device fields. The fund has completed five investments to date with one successful exit in December 2009.