New Opportunities in Michigan

A new entrepreneurial training program for inventors in Michigan aims to fast-track technologies to market and boost the economic impact of research conducted in the state. This spring the Michigan I-Corps (www.michigancorps.org) will be launched to help researchers in the state identify and assess potential applications and business opportunities for their technologies.

The Michigan I-Corps is modeled after the National Science Foundation’s National I-Corps program.  In 2012, U-M became one of three nodes selected by NSF to administer the national program to entrepreneurial faculty from across the country. U-M has received $1.5 million from NSF to administer the Michigan I-Corps.

Applicants to Michigan I-Corps can be any Michigan-based technologist, regardless of academic affiliation or funding source and is eligible to apply. Program coordinators are recruiting from universities in Michigan as well as from technology companies and startups funded by venture capitalists.

The statewide program will use the existing National I-Corps curriculum to focus on customer discovery and business model generation, but modules on business basics, intellectual property, and entrepreneurship ownership operations will be included. Workshops will be led by a team of local serial entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and experienced entrepreneurial educators.

Another University of Michigan program is bringing technologies including a new tool for microsurgery with funding from their new Engineering Translational Research (ETR) (http://cfe.umich.edu) grants. The program’s grants range from $20,000 to $50,000 per project and is administered by the Center for Entrepreneurship and the Office of Technology Transfer.

A state program that is funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation through the Michigan Corporate Relations Network (http://michigancrn.org/scip) recently issued a Request for Proposals with a May 1, 2013 deadline.

The funding is accomplished under the “Small Company Innovation Program” (SCIP) in place so that small to medium sized companies can receive matching funds for research projects at one of the organization’s participating universities in Michigan.

Projects that qualify for funding are funded at matches of $20,000 to $40,000 and the companies must be based in Michigan. Lorelei Davis, Associate Director of MSU Business Connect reports that the program has been around for a year and a half, but so far, the program has more money than applications. She also points out that the SCIP are easier to get than an SBIR grant and serves much of the same purpose.

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