Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, July 16, 2012

University part of Instant Innovation Program to help businesses

The ability for businesses to take advantage of the technical expertise and resources within the Michigan Corporate Relations Network (MCRN) university partnership has become much easier with the formation of the Instant Innovation Program.

U-M's Ann Arbor campus and UM-Dearborn are two of the six universities in the MCRN. The Business Engagement Centers in Ann Arbor and Dearborn are leading U-M's involvement in the MCRN.

An Instant Innovation consists of a facilitated brainstorming session in which a company works with a carefully selected, strategic collection of technical experts from at least two MCRN university partners to investigate the company's significant technical challenges and to identify potential solutions.

A session can lead to the generation of new ideas and thinking, solve significant and persistent problems, and potentially lead to new, commercial offerings and other revenue or cost reduction opportunities for the participating company.

"The Instant Innovation program is an example of how the Business Engagement Center, through MCRN, is working to connect industry with university resources to develop real solutions for companies," says Stella Wixom, interim executive director of the Business Engagement Center in Ann Arbor.

"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, CEO 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, a 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 created a set of ideas for new research and development initiatives and potential solutions that may be directly incorporated into existing operations or become the basis for follow-on research and development and strategic targeting of potential collaborative funding sources.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact any of the representatives from the MCRN universities to discuss a potential program prior to submitting a proposal application. Programs selected for implementation may have a broad impact within the proposing company with potential opportunities across the industrial sector.