Lab Manager | Run Your Lab Like a Business

Michigan State Initiative to Boost Research Spin-Out Enterprises

Michigan State University faculty and students will soon have better access to the business talent and the operational and financial support necessary to turn research innovations into successful businesses.

by Other Author
Register for free to listen to this article
Listen with Speechify

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University faculty and students will soon have better access to the business talent and the operational and financial support necessary to turn research innovations into successful businesses.

Spartan Innovations LLC, a newly formed subsidiary of the MSU Foundation, will provide five key resources to support the launch of sustainable MSU startups:

  • University-wide entrepreneurship education that engages the community.
  • Stipends to support student startup business participation.
  • CEO mentors-in-residence to help manage startups.
  • Access to a network of external new venture investors.
  • Gap funding to support the earliest stages of MSU technology development.

“This initiative demonstrates MSU’s commitment to bring more of our best research ideas to the marketplace, while we foster the development of critical skills for our students and help improve the Michigan economy,” said J. Ian Gray, vice president for the MSU Office of Research and Graduate Studies. “We are pleased that the MSU Foundation continues to focus considerable energy on successfully commercializing MSU’s ideas. It has stepped up and committed its capital to ensure that MSU benefits as much as possible from our creative and intellectual output,” Gray said.

Spartan Innovations will be an integral part of the MSU Innovation Center, together with MSU Technologies, the university’s technology transfer office organized in 2007, and Business-CONNECT, created in 2009 as MSU’s portal for engagement with the business community. Led by executive director Charles Hasemann, the MSU Innovation Center will coordinate the activities of the three units with those of other public, private and student entrepreneurial groups.

“By bringing these diverse resources – business outreach, business commercialization and business creation – into one well-orchestrated effort through the MSU Innovation Center, we feel that we have a very strong program for making the most of MSU’s intellectual capital,” Hasemann said.

He said MSU faculty and students, as well as the business community, now will more easily tap into the resources and the networks they need to make new ideas generated by MSU research viable in the marketplace. "Everything we are doing involves networks of talent and expertise, especially in our partnership with the Eli Broad College of Business, which has been involved since the early planning for Spartan Innovations through Dean Stefanie Lenway,” Hasemann added.

Spartan Innovations will be overseen by a board of directors that includes Hasemann and key foundation board members Philip Zecher and Craig Brown. Brown, immediate past chairperson of the foundation’s board of directors, said that while the goal of Spartan Innovations is to develop inventions and intellectual property generated from MSU research into businesses that will attract external investment, the foundation stands ready to invest its own capital as well.

“The foundation’s goals are strategically aligned with the university’s research objectives, and the foundation has been supportive of these business development activities for years. This new concept, Spartan Innovations, represents an opportunity to not just attract external funding, but also to use the foundation’s $350 million capital fund in ways that have significant potential for return on investment,” Brown said.

Spartan Innovations will join MSU Technologies and MSU Business-CONNECT on the third floor of 325 East Grand River Avenue, in downtown East Lansing, directly adjacent to campus. Also located there is the City of East Lansing’s Technology Innovation Center, a business accelerator for technology startups as well as the Hatch, a joint program between the TIC and MSU designed to provide a creative, co-working environment for MSU undergraduate student entrepreneurs to develop their own business ventures.