The University Research Corridor and Business Leaders for Michigan announced a new partnership yesterday called Accelerate Michigan, which aims to stimulate economic growth in the state.
“It’s no longer about publish or perish, it’s about partner or perish,” University President Mary Sue Coleman wrote in a press release distributed yesterday. “Accelerate Michigan is a new kind of industry-university model for universities and the business community to work together where university innovation and business needs intersect in a way that will spur economic development.”
According to the press release, the URC and BLM have partnered to help make Michigan a “top 10” state for economic growth. The URC is a research coalition made up of the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University. Work done by BLM stems from the Michigan Turnaround Plan, a strategy aimed at guiding Michigan back to economic stability.
“Michigan ranks high for both industry and university-based research,” Gerry Anderson, chair of BLM’s Innovation Committee and president and COO of DTE Energy, said in the press release. “This partnership will help focus the efforts of both BLM and the URC to better connect those assets to stimulate economic growth, encourage entrepreneurial activity across the state and put an international spotlight on Michigan as a hub for innovation.”
One of the ways the partnership aims to increase business opportunities in the state is by sponsoring the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, a national leader in business plan competitions, according to the press release.
University spokesman Joe Serwach said the competition is geared toward getting Michigan back on the map in terms of business.
“The big focus is on what the next Michigan will look like,” said Serwach, who is also a spokesman for the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition.
The student portion of the contest, which undergraduate and graduate state of Michigan college students are eligible to apply for, allows for an intercollegiate student competition separate from the company portion, open to any early-stage Michigan business, according to the website.
Serwach said he believes the students have a lot of great, out-of-the-box ideas to contribute to the state’s economy.
“The Dell computer started out of a dorm room,” he said.
Serwach added that the competition is similar to the 1,000 Pitches campaign organized by MPowered Entrepreneurship, a University student group, which he said helped to get more ideas from University students out into the working world.
With a $25,000 grand prize for the winning team at stake, a judging panel of investors, Michigan business veterans and Michigan entrepreneurs will be scrutinizing the possibilities for a wide range of business pitches, according to the website.
There are three stages to the student competition, with student submissions eliminated after each round. The initial application, which includes the business idea, is due Oct. 22, the second round includes a three-minute video submission and the final round includes a 15-minute presentation to the judges, according to a press release issued on Sept. 16 by Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition.
Serwach noted that the iPod and Google were developed by University graduates. He said the competition is looking for similar business ideas that will take off and help shape the future of business in Michigan.
“While there are many great lifestyle businesses (for example: boutiques, cafes, consulting firms), we’re looking for ideas that can scale and be valuable job creators,” the website said.
In addition to the competition, Accelerate Michigan also has future plans to set up an “exchange service” that will match the needs of businesses and universities so as to enable more partnerships on research projects, according to the press release.
“Accelerate Michigan recognizes the strategic alliance between Michigan’s largest businesses and research universities that began with the inclusion of the research university presidents on the BLM board last year,” Anderson said in the release.
BLM set up the Renaissance Venture Capital Fund to identify ways to help finance innovative Michigan-based companies, according to the press release. The RVCF recently concluded its first closing of almost $50 million. A second fund will be launched in 2012.
According to the press release, Accelerate Michigan is researching ways to best align university and business research and development. The organization will create a Science and Innovation Council to further this work in the future.
“Business and universities are both part of the solution to our economic challenges,” Wayne State President Allan Gilmour said in the press release. “But it’s the combined power that can really make a difference. That’s what Accelerate Michigan is all about.”