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Contents

Overview

Michigan Technological University is a world class research university looking to further encourage the startup culture on campus. Many of the resources available to students come from other students in the form of events and clubs. This wiki page will serve as a running record of the resources available to students on the Michigan Tech campus.  

Student Entrepreneurship 

Michigan Tech offers students a growing variety of resources to student entrepreneurs. These opportunities, while many are the same as past years, are being reorganized and streamlined under the Husky Innovate innitiative, to give a linear path of moving a new idea into a real startup. While some of them are easy to come by, others are more challenging for students to find. A few of the top resources are listed below: 

  • Idea Pitch Competition: The competitionis designed to encourage student entrepreneurship at Michigan Tech. The competition brings in over 30 aspiring innovative ideas together to present in two minutes to over 150 audience members. 
  • New Venture Competition: The New Venture Competition is a joint partnership between Michigan Tech and Central Michigan University where startups get business plan feedback, mentorship, and an opportunity to win over $30,000 for their new idea. 
  • Accelerate Michigan: Accelerate Michigan is a pitch competition held annually in the fall. It has a branch for students where 27 teams are selected as semi-finalists to compete at the Cobo Center in Detroit for a chance at $20,000.
  • Bob Mark Business Model Competiton: The business model competition is designed to assess the quality of a new venture pitch as well as the customer discovery process and sophistication of the minimum viable product. Cash prizes are awarded to the finalists.
  • Winter WonderHack: TechHacks is an event put on by the ACM chapter at Michigan Tech where students are invited to hack on new projects for 24-36 hours. ACM also funds and supports trips to MHacks and Illinois Hacks where students are encouraged to hack on new projects.

Faculty Entrepreneurship

Faculty at Michigan Tech are being encouraged (more and more) to take their research to market. With classes like Technology Commercialization faculty are being given the tools to take their ideas to market. A few resources available to faculty are: 

  • Michigan Tech Entrepreneurship Support Center: The support center exists to allow for new technologies to move towards commercialization without having to deal with the legal hassles of filing as a business. The support center allows small businesses to operate under their legal umbrella while they establish their venture. 
  • Technology Commercialization Department: Michigan Tech has an entire department (led by Jim Baker) devoted to helping faculty and graduate students move their research from the lab to a commercially available product. 

General  Entrepreneurship

While it can sometimes be helpful to break the resources available into faculty and students, there are many resources available to all entrepreneurial minded individuals around Michigan Tech. A few of them are highlighted below: 

  • SmartZone: the SmartZone in Houghton offers a variety of services to inspiring entrepreneurs. From their SmartStart program which guides startups through a curriculum to validate their idea, to low cost office space the SmartZone can help move an idea into reality quickly. With a major state grant the smartzone is able to offer world class services at a low cost. For students at Michigan Tech faculty, a strategic partnership between the University and the Smartzone makes many of the services free. 
  • Michigan Tech I-Corps: The Michigan Tech I-Corps program gives a four-week program on customer discover and lean startup a la Steve Blank. The program is designed to introduce startups and researchers looking to commercialize their work on how to provide value for their discovered customer segments.

Facilitating University-Industry Collaboration

Michigan Tech is known for the reasearch that is done on and around campus. There are 20 researsch centers that are connected with the university.

These research centers include:

Advanced Power Systems Research Center (APSRC), Advanced Sustainable Iron and Steel Center (ASISC),Biotechnology Research Center (BRC), Center for Agile and Interconnected Microgrids (AIM), Center for Computer Systems Research (CCSR), Center for Environmentally Benign Functional Materials (CEBFM), Center for Water and Society (CWS), Computational Science and Engineering Research Institute (CSERI), Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences Institute (EPSSI), Ecosystem Science Center (ESC), Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC), Institute of Materials Processing (IMP), Keweenaw Research Center (KRC), Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI), Michigan Tech Transportation Institute (MTTI), Multi-Scale Technologies Institute (MuSTI), Pre-College Innovative Outreach Institute (PIOI),  and Sustainable Futures Institute (SFI)

Enterprise Programs  and Senior Design Projects are also used to connect the university with industry. Michigan Tech has 26 Enterprise teams across different majors where students are working together to innovate and solve some practical problem. Some of these enterprise expieriences lead to opportunities where students may start a business. 

Even before graduation, Michigan Tech students are finding meaningful work experiences in industry.  From Summer 2013-Spring 2014, 337 co-ops/internships were reported at Michigan Tech.  Futhermore, Michigan Tech was a wonderful relationship with industry as shown by the fact that 370 companies drove/flew out to Michigan Tech for the Fall 2015 career fair.

Landscape Analysis

Michigan Tech trains and equips some of the best students in the country whether it is business and economics, engineering, forest resources and environmental sciences, sciences and arts, or technology. The Houghton Smart Zone and associated resources provide an excellent support structure for new businesses, and contests such as the New Venture Competition inject much needed funding into the startup culture at Michigan Tech.

Despite these resources there has not been widespread proliferation of student led startups at the University.

In speaking with several would-be founders, the bottleneck seems to be finding talented individuals who compliment the needs of the startups. Students not involved in the startup culture at Michigan Tech, and whom have progressed far enough through their curriculum to add significant value to a startup, seem to be reluctant to add another responsibility to their already busy schedule.

Furthermore, it is challenging for founders to find the top-talent at Michigan Tech to involve in their projects. Current methods rely on unstructured social connections and, in many cases, settling for whomever agrees to help. 

The current enterprise and senior design structure is great for connecting motivated students to funded projects and have been very successful in creating some truly incredible results. However in our observations it seems that often times the students involved with these enterprise teams are more engaged with the challenge and less so in the viability of their project as a business. 

Put simply, we believe there is often disconnect between those passionate about what they are working on and those passionate about creating a business.

If there were a way to connect founders with the top self-motivated talent within the University, one of the final bottlenecks for a thriving startup culture would be removed. We believe we can remove this bottleneck by merging the successes brought forth by the enterprise and senior design structure with students who have demonstrated business acumen and are passionate about transforming ideas into a new venture.

Full Landscape Analysis can be found here (Updated Fall 2017).

Related Links

Magann Dykema - A University Innovation Fellow from Michigan Tech

Cara Hardin - A University Innovation Fellow Candidate from Michigan Tech

Josh Jay- A University Innovation Fellow from Michigan Tech

Rachel Kolb- A University Innovation Fellow from Michigan Tech

Josh Krugh- A University Innovation Fellow from Michigan Tech

Rob Lambert - A University Innovation Fellow from Michigan Tech

Kyle Ludwig- A University Innovation Fellow from Michigan Tech

Cameron Philo - A University Innovation Fellow Candidate from Michigan Tech

Arsh Sahu - A University Innovation Fellow from Michigan Tech

David Shull- A University Innovation Fellow from Michigan Tech

Lexi Steve - A University Innovation Fellow Candidate from Michigan Tech

Brad Turner- A University Innovation Fellow from Michigan Tech

Adam Weber- A University Innovation Fellow from Michigan Tech

Gi West - A University Innovation Fellow Candidate from Michigan Tech

About the University - Learn about Michigan Tech including a landscape analysis

Michigan Tech Student Priorities - Learn about what students are working on

http://www.mtu.edu/ - Michigan Tech's website