Simply have a coffee or drink together with another colleague, and see what ideas percolate!

Research on innovation suggests that faculty can generate new research agendas and partners when they have more opportunities for informal encounters with faculty members outside of their own fields.  The University of Michigan Office of Research and Innovate Blue are delighted to announce the Innovate Brew program, a great opportunity for such productively “random” interactions.

What’s Involved

Sign up to have a one-on-one meeting for 30 minutes with a new person once per month and meet research-active colleagues that you’ve never met before.  You will be randomly paired with six different faculty members outside of your field during this six-month trial period.  There is NO obligation for any exchange after each initial meeting.  Just meet and exchange ideas!

Register Now, Learn More, or Pause Your Participation

Yes!  I want to participate in this random-matching coffee pool:  Sign up here.

Need more information?  Contact  

Pause or Reactivate your Innovate Brew participation: Click here.


Below are answers to some frequently asked questions.  If your question is not on this list, please contact the Innovate Brew team directly at   We will try to respond promptly.

Q: What is Innovate Brew?
A: Innovate Brew is an easy, time efficient way for intellectually curious faculty to find out what other passionate scholars are doing throughout the University of Michigan, and to be exposed to worlds of scholarship that one may never encounter following daily routines.

Exposure to diverse perspectives is characteristic of creative individuals, and is especially valuable in the far upstream “pre-proposal” stage of generating new research ideas and directions.

All you risk is 30 minutes, once a month, and you can opt into and out of the program easily on a month-by-month basis.   For that modest investment, previous participants report that:

  • One of the most gratifying outcomes is speaking with passionate scholars doing research in areas that one may not have known even existed!  The program gives UM faculty a unique window into the true depth and breadth of the University of Michigan.
  • Although immediate research collaborations are not the primary goal, previous Innovate Brew participants report that 5% of encounters have a direct and unexpected research consequence.  Indeed, research on innovation suggests that over the course of time and multiple meetings the accumulated effect of being exposed to different perspectives and world views stimulates creativity, new questions and novel research directions.

Q:  So, is this all about grant writing?
A: No it is not. Innovate Brew is for curious scholars who want to enrich UM’s informal social ecosystem and connect with faculty across campus.  These informal random meetings are intended to stimulate your pre-grant thought processes, and create connections that you would not have otherwise.

Q:  What should we talk about?  Anything?
A:  Conversations should focus on research.  Participants can structure the conversation in any way that is mutually satisfactory, but one possible outline is:

10 min: Person A introduces him/herself,  describes his/her research interests, and what specifically they are working on now.
10 min:  Person B repeats that information for him/herself
10 min:  Free form Q&A

Q:  What am I supposed to get out of this?  How will I know if a meeting is successful?
A:  There is no pressure to achieve any particular “take-away” in any one meeting.  It is the accumulated impact of many meetings that should have an effect.  Progress of any sort may not be apparent after any single meeting.  Give it a try for 6 months (just 6 meetings) and see if, in retrospect, the time was well spent.

Q:   Where should we go for coffee?
A:  The location is free for you to choose, but meetings should be in an environment where participants can speak freely and openly about any topic.

Q:  Do I have to pay for my own coffee?
A:  Yes. We considered several “coupon” and other methods for paying for coffee, but each required more overhead than it was worth.  Most faculty have access to faculty lounges with free coffee.   If you want to visit a local coffee house, the cost is minimal and we hope not a strong deterrent.

Q: Is this just for research active faculty?  Why not staff?
A:  We are starting with research active faculty.  After we see how this goes, we can consider a range of options going forward.

Q:  How much time do meetings take?
A:  30 minutes is the maximal commitment for each conversation.  Conversations may run over time if both participants wish it to and their discretionary time allows, but in general participants should plan for at most 30 minutes and be loyal to that constraint so these conversations do not interfere significantly with your very busy work life.

Q:  Can we meet again?
A:  Yes, by mutual consent, but you are not obligated to.  Recognizing how busy everyone is, another meeting is not to be expected.  People should go in with that understanding, so that there is no obligatory claim on anybody’s time beyond your one meeting.  Whether or not the participants choose to meet again is entirely voluntary.