Joe Affholter of Michigan State Unversity and Michelle Larkin at the University of Michigan have essentially the same job: get academic research in the life sciences from the laboratory where it is discovered in Michigan’s half dozen largest research universities out to industry. Sounds simple, but it’s anything but. That’s because the MEDC’s Life Sciences MTRAC program is tasked with licensing technology invented in the academic system, mentoring new founders who often did not start in industry, and with helping companies get funded through clinical trials and the push out to the commercial market, which can take years to complete.
Denise Graves is the University Relations Director for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. She coordinates funding for a number of startup funds around the state, and she works closely with universities to get inventions out into industry. We’ve known the MEDC was supporting revitalizing the Michigan economy for years, but recently we ran into Graves at a university entrepreneurial event and realized we only ever get a partial picture of how startups can connect with the MEDC for business support services, and how all of this really works. We wanted to know more, and thought you might as well. Graves and her colleague, Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the MEDC Fred Molnar, explained to Cronicle the process they go through to help support new ventures in Michigan.
Rebecca Cunningham, the University of Michigan Interim VP for Research with Tech Transfer and Kelly Sexton, Associate VP for Research at Technology Transfer and Innovation Partnerships at U of M TechTransfer, held a panel this week at Celebrate Invention on a milestone year for the University of Michigan developing inventions, research, and startups from work done by faculty and researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. TechTransfer is the licensing office that helps researchers and faculty at the University of Michigan who develop inventions and new business ideas spin off intellectual property with proper licensing from the University of Michigan. This year, according to Cunningham, the University of Michigan has developed 502 new inventions, 198 patents, 232 licenses and options with industry, and founded a record 22 new startups.