Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, January 19, 2012

U-M growing its 'culture of entrepreneurship,' Coleman says

President Mary Sue Coleman told a Washington, D.C., conference Wednesday that the university is constantly expanding its "campus culture of entrepreneurship."

  President Mary Sue Coleman addresses a Washington, D.C., conference on how university entrepreneurship helps the Michigan economy and prepares students for the business world. With her is Holden Thorp, chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Photo by Mike Waring, Washington Office)

At the sixth annual Presidents-Investors Summit, Coleman pointed to numerous examples of activities designed to help start new companies and encourage students and faculty to engage in business creation.

One such new program is the Michigan Investment in New Technology Startups. That program has funding of $25 million over the next 10 years dedicated to accelerating businesses that could contribute to the Michigan economy. The program invests in select venture-funded U-M startups — new companies built around inventions born in faculty members' labs.

"A 20-year analysis of faculty startups has shown the university would have benefited financially if it had invested in these ventures," Coleman said. "Last year, the university helped launch 11 companies, eight of which opened in Michigan."

Coleman also mentioned innovation infrastructure, such as the Business Engagement Center and the North Campus Research Complex. She also discussed the new master's degree in entrepreneurship offered by the College of Engineering and the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, which she said will provide students with "the tools and confidence necessary to become business-savvy technology innovators."

And she noted the Zell Entrepreneurship And Law Program, which will provide free legal advice to students who want to develop businesses, while also training law students to better serve startups and existing businesses.

"Students are itching to do something real," Coleman added.

The conference was organized by the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer, and was co-sponsored by the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and several venture capital associations.

Participants included university presidents, research vice presidents and others involved in campus economic development; venture capital fund representatives; and government officials involved in research and economic development activity. Vice President for Research Stephen Forrest accompanied Coleman to the conference.