$3M fund created to support outdoor recreation in the U.P.

mountain biking

UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. – On Tuesday InvestUP and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) announced the creation of an expansive $3 million fund in support of the outdoor recreation industry. Truly, from the Great Lakes to the rugged terrain of the Upper Peninsula, regional outdoor activities abound in every season.

Startups across the state whose focus is the integration of the latest technology in outdoor recreation will be supported through the Michigan Outdoor Innovation Fund with investments of $50,000-$250,000. It is expected that this funding will support 30-35 companies over the next few years.

The first funding of its kind in the Upper Peninsula, the financial commitment represents the only seed fund in any rural area in the state.

Support for the funds through the MEDC and its Michigan Innovate Capital Fund (MICF) program.

“The great outdoors are among Michigan’s greatest assets, and outdoor recreation is a critically important and rapidly-growing sector for the Upper Peninsula and the entire state of Michigan. The Michigan Outdoor Innovation Fund will be a gamechanger for innovators and entrepreneurs who exist at the intersection of technology, industry, tourism and natural resources, and who recognized that quality of life is often tied to the quality of outdoor recreation opportunities,” said Marty Fittante, CEO of InvestUP in a release on Tuesday. “We are grateful for the opportunity to manage the Michigan Outdoor Innovation Fund, and sincerely appreciate the MEDC’s steadfast and ongoing support of outdoor recreation.”

Correspondingly, an advisory board has been created that includes Innovate Marquette SmartZone and Michigan Tech University. This partnership will help evaluate potential investments opportunities for startups and will further assist in building connections to existing outdoor recreation organizations and other resources.

“Thanks to the MEDC’s vision and InvestUP’s stewardship, the Michigan Outdoor Innovation Fund will allow us to continue disrupting the outdoor recreation industry by investing in startups and entrepreneurs whose ideas will serve as a catalyst for economic growth as well as the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike,” said Innovate Marquette SmartZone CEO Joe Thiel in Tuesday’s release. “This investment by the MEDC to launch the Michigan Outdoor Innovation Fund demonstrates their commitment to growing outdoor recreation as well as make it more accessible for everyone.”

Innovate Marquette assisted in securing the Fund through a $700,000 Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) grant courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

For more information about the funding and how to apply at michiganoutdoorfund.com.

The Fund’s Managing Director, Jim Baker, can also be contacted by emailing him at [email protected].

— with files from upmatters.com


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