New state program features university-business partnership

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Professional collaboration

Instant Innovation Program

KALAMAZOO--A new program developed as part of a collaboration among Western Michigan University and five other state universities will make it easier for businesses to take advantage of much needed technical expertise and other resources within a university partner network.

The Instant Innovation Program has been developed as part of the Michigan Corporate Relations Network, a collaboration of six public universities connecting businesses with university resources to help drive innovation and commercialization.

By taking part in the Instant Innovation Program, businesses participate in a facilitated brainstorming session in which the company works with a carefully selected collection of technical experts from at least two MCRN university partners to identify the company's significant technical challenges and investigate potential solutions. A session can lead to the generation of new ideas and thinking, solve persistent problems, and potentially lead to new revenue sources or cost reduction opportunities for the participating company.

"The MCRN university partners represent a depth and breadth of technical expertise that is of significant potential value to businesses, but can be difficult to engage in a comprehensive manner," says Mike Finney, chief executive officer of Michigan Economic Development Corp. "The Instant Innovation Program takes all of the guesswork out of the process and ensures that the best talent and resources are assigned from across the network to help develop solutions."

Following receipt of a company's application, an MCRN representative will identify a minimum of two technical experts from within the network and develop a budget, including a company match, to cover program costs. By the end of the program, participants will have brainstormed ideas for new research and development initiatives, or proposed potential solutions to an existing problem. These outcomes may be directly incorporated into existing operations or become the basis for follow-up research and development.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Lisa Garcia, director of WMU's Business Connection office, to discuss a potential program prior to submitting a proposal application. Programs selected for implementation may have a broad impact within the participating company with potential application across the industrial sector.

Michigan Corporate Relations Network

In addition to WMU, universities taking part in the Michigan Corporate Relations Network include Wayne State University, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University and University of Michigan-Dearborn. The collaborative effort is funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

Each member university maintains an office that connects businesses to university resources and faculty who can assist with research needs. In addition to the Instant Innovation Program, MCRN provides a variety of resources to Michigan companies that promote innovation and growth. Visit michigancrn.org for more information.

Garcia can be reached at (269) 387-0950 or lisa.garcia@wmich.edu.