U-M Entrepreneurs are All in for Michigan: A Perspective from the U-M Center for Entrepreneurship

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The University of Michigan has a long history of supporting successful ventures. The Center for Entrepreneurship  takes a look at several who are choosing to establish headquarters in the state or are planning to build companies here that provide products and services to a globalmarket. 

In the state-wide Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competitionthat was held in Detroit this past October, U-M student and alumni startups brought home more than $650K of the total $1 million of prizes and awards. This included the grand prize of $500K that was awarded to recent U-M engineering alumni startup, Sky Specs, LLC. Perhaps even more encouraging than their success in this annual event; all five U-M affiliated teams that won at the Accelerate Michigan competition have either already established headquarters in the state or are planning to build companies hereafter that provide products and services to a globalmarket. Here’s who they are:

Grand Prize ($500,000): Sky Specs, LLC, drone safety and software technology

First Runner Up ($100,000):Cribspot, housing searching, listing and management for college students

Medical Device Winner ($25,000): AlertWatch, monitoring technology for patients in during medical operations

People’s Choice Winner ($25,000):Turtle Cell, an all in one phone case product with retractable headphones

Student First Runner Up ($5,000):HeelSecret, an insert for high heels to keep the heel from slipping

What’s driving the rapidly increasing desire for startups to take root in Michigan? The Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE) has identified a number of key influencers at the state, community and institutional level that are supporting growth in commercializing technology and new business ideas here.

First, let’s just call it like it is. Entrepreneurship in general has become really “cool” as more resources and opportunities are made available to create or recreate innovation. But what some may not realize is that Michigan was one of the first regions built around profound entrepreneurship. Long before there was a “Silicon Valley” there was Henry Ford, for example. Much of Michigan’s economic legacy has been the state’s ability to design faster, better, and more efficient ways to do just about everything from manufacturing to automotive to translational research.

The underlying principle of the “Startup Culture” is to combine the brightest human capital to the tasks of problem solving. That same philosophy has always characterized Michigan, but it now presents itself with a new generation at the forefront and an acceleration of new technology and opportunities like never before. Michigan’s latest innovation movement became a major contributor in rebuilding Detroit, creating new technology epicenters in places like Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids. The overall impact of new initiatives is a rallying cry to be a part of positive change – drawing in the younger, millennial generation specifically. Entrepreneurship culture in the state of Michigan is unique in that it provides a feeling of contributing to something larger than just starting a business.

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