| WMU News
KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A management and consulting firm focused on helping organizations use industrial engineering technology to optimize their operations is the newest firm to become a partner in the Western Michigan University Business Technology and Research Park.
Applied IE is a three-year-old company founded and led by Eric M. Gatmaitan, who was once a WMU faculty member. The company, for which he is managing director, has just moved into a suite in the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, a business incubator for startups in the life sciences
Applied IE has had clients ranging from Dell Computers and La-Z-Boy to Stryker and Pfizer, but Gatmaitan says about 60 percent of his company's business is in the health care industry, working in such areas as business operations, supply chain management and applying technology to industry needs and innovations. Applied IE also designs industrial engineering training programs for both companies and community colleges.
"Part of our message has always been to educate and define industrial engineering profession for the industry segments we work with," Gamaitan says. "Our objective is always to define IE as good for any industry, and since we've aligned ourselves with the education and application sides, we wanted to align ourselves with the University and those companies that have done the same by partnering with WMU at the BTR Park."
Gatmaitan points to the Innovation Center as a particularly good match for his company. Locating among young life science startups allows Applied IE employees to both get to know new firms and showcase technical developments such as clinical data analytics and 3-D printing to produce prototypes of new products.
"We're happy to be in the Innovation Center, because it gives us a chance to both network and help startups launch new products and move quickly into the production of their innovations."
Applied IE, Gatmaitan says, was launched in 2012 as a continuation of two earlier firms. The move to the BTR Park allows the two-employee firm the space to grow, and an intern from WMU's College of Enginnering and Applied Sciences has already been added to the staff. He'd like to add a new employee each year, ideally through a series of internship relationships that can develop into full-time jobs for the right individuals. Proximity to the engineering college makes that easier, Gatmaitan says.
"We are lucky that the stars aligned and we could be accommodated," he says. "The ability to network and the building's information technology security were critically important to us, and when the right office space became available, we moved quickly."
BTR Park at capacity
The leased space in the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center is one that has opened up in an existing facility in a park that is now full, with the only empty parcels already contracted for future building efforts. The University is looking toward expansion in a nearby parcel of land already designated for that use.
WMU Associate Vice President Bob Miller, point person for the BTR Park, notes that companies in the park are usually actively engaged with the University's academic programs and students, and they fall into one of three disciplines—life sciences, advanced engineering and information technology, More than 40 firms are now part of the 15-year-old initiative.