New Community Transformation Fund invests in first company
New Community Transformation Fund invests $500,000 in groundbreaking medical start-up.
the New Community Transformation Fund (NCTF), a Grand Rapids-based venture fund aimed at boosting businesses owned by people of color in western Michigan, has made its first investment, a $500,000 outlay in BAMF Healtha Grand Rapids-based second-stage life science company founded by former Van Andel Institute scientist Dr. Anthony Chang.
The deal was finalized in late December 2021, shortly after the NCTF raised $10 million, which fund executives said was the fund’s fundraising goal to make its first investments in businesses owned by people of color.
Founded in 2018 by Chang, BAMF Health, which stands for Bold Advanced Medical Future, works to transform the systems used to diagnose and treat patients with cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, depression, endometriosis, heart disease and more.
The company is currently building its state-of-the-art radiopharmacy, imaging clinic, theranostics clinic and headquarters at the Doug Meijer Medical Innovation Building at the northeast corner of Monroe Avenue and Michigan Street in downtown Grand Rapids.
The flagship facility is the first of its kind in the world. The radiopharmacy equipped with a cyclotron will produce new radiopharmaceuticals on site. Patients will receive treatment in the Optimized Theranostics Clinic during their same-day visit.
“We are thrilled to have the NCTF join our mission to make the world’s best cancer care affordable and accessible to everyone who needs it,” Chang said. “Our partnership with NCTF proves that Western Michigan is and will continue to be one of the best places to start a business. We are thrilled that the whole community stands up for our mission.
BAMF was one of many life sciences-focused second-stage companies that fund executives considered. Advanced manufacturing, food and agribusiness, e-commerce, information technology and fintech are the other main industries the fund will focus on, with investments expected to be between $250,000 and $500,000.
The fund will focus on three areas: West Michigan-based people in businesses of color; transitioning non-local businesses that want to place an entrepreneur of color in leadership positions; and second-stage entrepreneurs of color who will relocate to West Michigan to expand their business.
For its first investment, NCTF executives felt it was important to focus on a local business, they said.
“Many of us on the Board and Investment Committee have had the benefit of visiting BAMF and getting to know Anthony and the team, so we felt very comfortable with this inaugural investment,” said Birgit Klohs, Chairman of the Board, NCTF, and one of the group’s founders. “We believe BAMF Health is well on its way to breaking through so many barriers with its theranostics and radiopharmaceutical technology, so we believe the time has come to support it financially.”
The NCTF maintains an investment committee made up of local and national members and is governed by a board of directors which, with Klohs as chair, includes fellow NCTF co-founder Skot Welch, president and CEO of Global Bridgebuilders; Kwame Anku, CEO and General Partner of Black Star Fund; Garrick Rochow, President and CEO of CMS and Consumers Energy; and Christal Jackson, an internationally renowned philanthropist.
NCTF Founding Managing Director Ollie Howie, who was hired in November 2021 to lead deal opportunities, also got to know Dr Chang and the BAMF vision. In his first few months, he watched the region’s business successes and believed that BAMF would be part of that legacy.
“This region is rich in entrepreneurial spirit and in recent years has made a name for itself internationally in the life sciences sector, so I believe BAMF will add to that legacy,” said Howie. . “With BAMF and subsequent investments, NCTF hopes to add a new chapter to our history book by helping entrepreneurs of color succeed.”
As Managing Director, Howie is responsible for guiding the organization’s work to achieve its mission by sourcing deal flow and building relationships with investors and the community. He also leads the growth of the business by originating, negotiating and closing investment opportunities, all functions he has managed to some extent in previous roles.
The NCTF launched on January 23, 2020, inspired by an idea Klohs had to create opportunity for entrepreneurs of color. NCTF executives said they are excited to start investing in companies and have already compiled a strong pipeline of potential next investments. Additionally, other communities across the country have their eye on what the NCTF is doing and have asked to replicate the fund in other communities.
“We were very impressed with the portfolios we reviewed and look forward to walking alongside other entrepreneurs of color to support their business growth,” Klohs said. “Colleagues across the country have reached out to us for more information on the NCTF model, so we know we’re on the right track with this venture.”