Ross establishes new initiative to encourage startup growth

By Michael Sugerman, Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 1, 2014

The Ross School of Business and the College of Engineering unveiled their newest entrepreneurship venture, the Desai Family Accelerator, on Aug. 19.

The program aims to do more than incubate student startups, like many current University programs do. Instead, it will seek to advance projects during their early stages. The financial resources and mentorship provided by the program are available to students, faculty and external companies.

The Business School’s Samuel Zell & Robert Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies and the College of Engineering’s Center of Entrepreneurship will manage the program together.

“This Accelerator is a great example of two world class programs coming together,” said CFE Executive Director Tom Frank in a statement. “Most successful startups have multidisciplinary backgrounds.”

The program will provide financial resources, mentoring by faculty and University alumni and office space at Pillar Technology, a consulting firm located in downtown Ann Arbor with a focus on developing companies. The investments in the program will provide funding for entrepreneurial ventures.

The Accelerator is sponsored by the Desai Sethi Family Foundation—founded by Business alum Bharat Desai ’81—and the William Davidson Foundation. Desai is also the co-founder of IT company Syntel. The latter institution, founded by Business alum William Davidson ‘47, is based at the University and emphasizes economic education and consulting services.

Desai said in a statement the Accelerator is a direct reflection of the DS Family Foundation, bringing together education and entrepreneurship in “perfect harmony.”

“(T)his initiative will provide a boost to the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and encourage the establishment of new and innovative ventures in Michigan,” he said.