Michigan Universities Join Forces for $75M Entrepreneurship Initiative

July 23, 2008

A consortium of Michigan’s 15 public universities recently announced a decade-long initiative to launch 200 new businesses in the state. The Michigan Initiative for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MIIE) plans to raise and distribute $75 million over the next seven years through grants for commercialization projects, university-industry partnerships and entrepreneurship education. Last week, the initiative made its first round of awards, which included 20 grants totaling $1.3 million. Another $2.2 million in matching funds is expected for this round of awardees from private businesses and universities.

Funding for the round of grants was provided by the C.S. Mott Foundation, which also helped launch the initiative with a $2 million grant late last year. MIIE plans to raise future funds through partnerships and donations from other philanthropic foundations around the state. Two-thirds of the funds raised by the initiative will support awards through the Technology Commercialization Fund, which funds specific steps to move a technology to market through a new company or licensing. The remaining amount will support the Industry and Economic Engagement Fund for university-industry collaborations and the Talent Retention and Entrepreneurship Education Fund for faculty development and resources.

In all, 13 of the 15 member institutions received grants from this round of awards. Highlights include:

  • $100,000 for a Commercialization Center at Wayne State’s Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics;
  • $50,000 for the Michigan Functional Design Incubator at Central Michigan University, which will assist textile companies with scanning, thermography and simulation resources;
  • $77,500 to help create the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and Innovation at the Western Michigan University Haworth College of Business; and,
  • $45,000 for The Launch Pad at the University of Michigan – Flint, which will stimulate the creation of student-owned businesses in the region.


The next round of awards in all three categories is expected this fall.

MIIE officials believe that the goal of 200 businesses in 10 years is possible based on the results from similar investments through the Michigan Universities Commercialization Initiative (MUCI). MUCI is a similar collaboration between 13 state universities, which began in 2001 and currently derives its funding through Michigan’s 21st Century Fund. Since its inception, MUCI has invested $6 million into projects related to commercialization and led to 27 business starts. MIIE’s grants are similar to those offered through MUCI’s $4.5 million Challenge Fund and would continue to support commercialization projects should MUCI lose its funding. MIIE committee member told Crain’s Detroit Business that MIIE is envisioned as the next generation of MUCI.

For more information on the Michigan Initiative for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, visit: http://www.pcsum.org/miie.html