In a maze of buildings on the University of Michigan’s North Campus in Ann Arbor, the Venture Accelerator, startup hub for intellectual property spun off by the Office of Tech Transfer from research and faculty at the University of Michigan, sits quietly on the block that used to be owned by Pfizer. Diane Bouis, Innovation Program Manager at the Venture Accelerator, helps these new ventures find resources and space in the many labs and offices housed in the building where the Venture Accelerator hosts new companies. The Venture Center, Accelerator, and Office of Tech Transfer work in close conjunction here to support baby startups in life sciences in particular to get out into the world.
Young entrepreneurs are pouring out of tech towns these days. If the towns are lucky, they retain many of them now that the Midwest and other places outside Silicon Valley are reviving and affordable spaces to grow a business. The University of Michigan, ranked #1-rated ecosystem for undergrad student entrepreneurs by Princeton Review, is leading the way in this shift in startup culture across the U.S.. That’s why successful serial entrepreneurs like Jim Price were brought on board, to mentor the next generation of founders. Price is Entrepreneurial Studies Faculty & Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, and he’s a big connector and mentor for young entrepreneurs starting out in Ann Arbor, with a background that spans coasts, tech and engineering, and teaching. He’s also a really fun guy we’ve watched help shift the entrepreneurial environment in Ann Arbor through generous mentorship, so we caught up with him in his office at the University of Michigan to ask him what led him to Ann Arbor and what trends he’s seeing these days in business and entrepreneurship.
The University of Michigan has a Princeton Review #1-rated ecosystem for student entrepreneurs and multiple venture accelerators, which is great support for budding startups in Ann Arbor and Michigan’s growing tech industry. But what really goes on behind closed doors? As supportive as the University of Michigan is for new businesses being spun out from faculty or run through funded programs with multiple levels of mentorship, this can all still look a bit opaque from the outside. As part of our mission to highlight the accelerating growth of Ann Arbor and Michigan regional tech over the past few years, we wanted to sit down with the Desai Accelerator run out of U-M’s Zell Lurie Institute at the Ross School of Business to hear how things work and what resources are out there for people looking to connect. This is a newer program, and still being shaped.
It’s been a while since we played a scavenger hunt, but these days augmented reality seems just the thing to make these old-fashioned games fresh again. Plus, on our phones we don’t have to get in trouble deciding if we should follow a clue like “find the oldest bones around” by taking forbidden photos in the dinosaur museum or asking an old guy crossing the street to take a selfie with us…. Closing out our summer series on Michigan-based gaming studios is Scavenger, another student launched out of the University of Michigan OptiMize program that has continued as the co-founders Kyle Zappitell (CEO) and Harry Stephens (CPO) and other team members moved to LA, New York, and Chicago. Co-founder Kyle Zappitell tells us his startup Scavenger is an augmented reality scavenger game app that allows users to combine augmented reality and real-world gaming to win cash prizes. For now, the testing zone for the game is based in Chicago, but other cities are coming soon.
College campuses have been through a number of crises lately, from dealing with increasing academic pressure to a growing number of active shooters to high rates of alcohol abuse among young people. One startup aims to offer students support in a format that works for their lives–in demand, online, and peer to peer. hEARt is a new startup founded at the University of Michigan out of the OptiMize program, which is creating a platform and peer mentoring service to combat the mental health crisis facing many students in college and even in high school.
We live in a time where old orders are collapsing: from the post-colonial nation states of the Middle East to the EU and the American election. Amid all of this, a generation of young men find themselves burning with resentment, without the money, power, and sex they think they deserve. Written and performed by Javaad Alipoor and co-directed by Kirsty Housley (who also co-directed Complicite’s The Encounter), this multimedia show weaves together stories of three disaffected men and their journeys to radicalization, exploring the smoke and mirrors world of online extremism, anonymity, and hate speech.
Chris Karounos is the co-founder and creative director of Abaca Games, a new startup out of Ann Arbor that is based in his masters research in sustainability, in which he focused on tropical agroforestation. He says he had the opportunity to launch a new video game called 10 Degrees (coming September 3rd) that helps support reforestation through game play when his startup was accepted into the University of Michigan Optimize incubator program.
In 2013, a group of University of Michigan students wanted to support each other’s startup ventures. Some were tech focused, others social impact-oriented startups that needed time and financial backing to give them a chance to grow. “We spent time taking tests, writing papers, but hadn’t tried our hand at solving problems,” says Jeff Pituch, Associate Director for Social Innovation at Optimize. “We started Optimize as a program for early-stage ventures.”
Legend has it that if you sit still long enough in the ITHAKA/JSTOR kitchen attending Orchestructure meetings, every person you ever wanted to meet will walk through the door. Okay, well, maybe almost every person. Jeff Sica is a senior database administrator at the University of Michigan through Advanced Research Computing Technology Services or ARC-TS…
When students search for jobs as assistants in research labs, the process is awkward and disorganized. Most labs only post high-level overviews of their research online, so it can be difficult to connect with the right opportunity and find a lab or researcher that wants to take on students, not to mention knowing whether the…