Tag Archives: innovation

Michigan Tech I-Corps Site Workshop

The Michigan Tech I-Corps Site Program and the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship will be hosting its next NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Workshop in January over a 4-week period, with the first session starting on Saturday, January 7th.

The I-Corps Site program is a team-based program structure that was developed through a partnership between the National Science logo_nsf-icorpsFoundation (NSF) and successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. The workshop provides an introduction to the Lean Start-up business development methodology which focuses on getting out of the lab and using the proven tools of Customer Discovery and the Business Model Canvas to evaluate the commercial potential of innovative technologies.

This is a great opportunity to work with an experienced team of workshop leaders to determine, document, and fully realize the commercial potential of your technology. Teams which successfully complete the program requirements are eligible for $2500 to advance their technology-focused start-up ideas through customer discovery and prototyping. Teams also become eligible for NSF’s National I-Corps program which includes $50,000 in funding.

Participants of I-Corps Site programs and NSF’s National I-Corps have demonstrated significantly higher funding rates from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) programs which offer Phase I awards up to $225,000 and Phase II awards up to $750,000. Past participants also report that the I-Corps program had a positive impact on their careers, as well as their approach to research, teaching and mentoring.

Apply today for this great experience! For more information on the Michigan Tech I-Corps Site Program or to apply to the January workshop, visit mtu.edu/honors/ice/icorps/. The deadline to submit your application is January 2, 2017.


Design Thinking and Makerspaces

By Mary Raber

If you’ve been hanging out around the Pavlis Honors College you’ve probably heard talk about Design Thinking and Makerspaces. And maybe you’re wondering, what are these things and why are they important?

As stated by Tom & David Kelley, co-founders of the product innovation company IDEO and authors of Creative Confidence, “Most people are born creative. As children, we revel in imaginary play, ask outlandish questions, draw blobs and call them dinosaurs. But over time, because of socialization and formal education, a lot of us start to stifle those impulses. We learn to be warier of judgment, more cautious, more analytical. The world seems to divide into “creatives” and “non-creatives,” and too many people consciously or unconsciously resign themselves to the latter category.”

Last fall, the Pavlis Honors College announced the creation of a new Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship (ICE), and as part of our mission we want to help Michigan Tech students, faculty and staff reclaim their “creative confidence.” Design thinking and makerspaces are two great tools that can help.

“Design Thinking is defined as a methodology and a mindset that draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning, to explore possibilities of what could be—and to create desired outcomes that match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity,” explains IDEO CEO, Tim Brown.

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It is an iterative process that starts with Empathy…understanding the needs and challenges of the people who might use the innovative ideas you are developing. By getting out and talking to people, you can learn a lot about their needs and challenges which can help ensure that you are focusing on the right problem. Then through ideation processes such as brainstorming, new ideas are generated. Simple prototypes of these ideas can be created with fast and inexpensive methods such as sketching, role playing, or building models using materials like post-it notes and pipe cleaners. These simple prototypes can then be used to gain valuable feedback by testing a physical model of your idea with prospective users. This allows you to determine whether you’re on the right track before you’ve invested too much time or money, or if you need to go back to a previous step to explore your idea further.

We now have a team of faculty and students (our University Innovation Fellows) who are trained in the design thinking process and are available to help others develop design-thinking skills through facilitated workshops and class sessions. The team has already been working hard to help infuse this process across campus and into the community.

You’ve probably also heard about our new makerspace, The Alley. Makerspaces are popping up all over the world and there are an estimated 400 makerspaces in the US alone. They are intended to be creative, DIY spaces where people can gather to create, collaborative, invent, tinker and learn using a variety of tools and materials. By all accounts, they are not just spaces, they are communities of people from all disciplines and backgrounds who enjoy making things. They encompass making in all forms, whether building with power tools, creating 3D printed prototypes, experimenting with cooking, or creating through more traditional art forms like sewing and painting.

Over the past year, a diverse team of students, faculty and staff have worked to convert the old bowling alley in the basement of the MUB to a really cool collaborative work space where members of the Michigan Tech community can bring their ideas to life.

In September, representatives of Milwaukee Tool came to campus to help facilitate a workbench building event. Milwaukee Tool is a strong supporter of The Alley and helped get the makerspace off the ground with a generous donation of tools. The Alley officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony on October 25th, 2016.

The Alley is a student-led makerspace, with a team of Maker Coaches (student, faculty and staff volunteers) who staff the space, maintain the tools & equipment, train new users, and help to make it a safe place to work. It is open to the Michigan Tech community on Monday-Thursday from 3:00-9:00pm. For more info on the space, or how to get involved as a volunteer Maker Coach, check out The Alley’s website or Facebook page.

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Michigan Tech Students to Compete in the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition

AccelerateMichiganphotoThe Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition is one of the largest business competitions in the country celebrating its seventh year highlighting the best and brightest early-stage business to regional investors. The competition continues to showcase the state as a powerhouse for business opportunity and the next generation of technology.

Paul Jacques, Director of Community and Student Engagement at Spartan Innovations said, “Student Accelerate is an incredible opportunity for Michigan’s young entrepreneurs to step out and take risks. Today’s semi-finalists come from colleges and universities all across Michigan and represent the top student-based startup ideas. I’m honored to announce our 2016 Student Accelerate Michigan Class.”

Seventy student companies applied to compete in this year’s competition from universities across Michigan including Central Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University, Northwestern Michigan College, Northwood University, University of Michigan, Wayne State University, and Western Michigan University.

Out of the 27 semi-finalists that were selected to compete for up to $20,000 in cash prizes, two of the teams were from Michigan Tech and both have ties to the Pavlis Honors College. Kyle Ludwig, a University Innovation Fellow and PHC Custom Pathway student, is a member of the team of student founders for Tru, which is developing tools to enable healthy meal planning. Emmet Eurich is a member of Vacu-Shot which is developing archery technology suitable for disabled people and safer for everyone. Emmet and team member Sankalp Benwa are both members of the Consumer Products Manufacturing Enterprise.

The competition will take place in Detroit, MI this Thursday. We wish Kyle, Emmet and Sankalp the best of luck this week! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for live updates throughout the day.


Tech Students Named University Innovation Fellows

UIFs in Silicon Valley for Epicenter Training

Kyle Ludwig and Adam Weber accepting their check for Best Technology at the Bob Mark Elevator Pitch Competition.
Kyle Ludwig and Adam Weber accepting their check for Best Technology at the 2016 Bob Mark Elevator Pitch Competition.

Congratulations to Rachel Kolb, Kyle Ludwig, and Adam Weber who have been named University Innovation Fellows (UIF) by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school). This global program trains student leaders to create new opportunities for their peers to engage with innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking and creativity.

The University Innovation Fellows Program empowers students to become agents of change at Michigan Tech. Fellows work to ensure that their peers gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to make a positive impact on the world.

“We believe that students can be so much more than just the customers of their education. They can be leaders of change and they can co-design the higher education experience,” said Humera Fasihuddin, co-director of the University Innovation Fellows program. “This core belief has driven the program since its inception, and we’ve seen the results of this belief put to action at schools around the world. Fellows are collaborating with their peers, faculty and administrators to create more educational opportunities for students at their schools. They are making measurable gains, both in the number of resources and the students served by the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.”

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Rachel Kolb received the Rising Star of the Year award at the 2016 Michigan Tech Student Award Ceremony

Rachel, Kyle and Adam were sponsored by Pavlis Honors College Assistant Dean, Mary Raber. The Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship will fund the Fellows’ six week online training along with their travel to the annual University Innovation Fellows Silicon Valley Meetup in March of 2017.

“Through this program, Fellows learn how to analyze their campus ecosystems for new opportunities, understand the needs of stakeholders at their schools, collaborate with peers from different disciplines, and solve open-ended problems,” said Leticia Britos Cavagnaro, co-director of the University Innovation Fellows program. “All of these mindsets and skills will help Fellows make a difference in higher education as well as in the increasingly complex world that awaits them after graduation.”

Tech’s new Fellows will advocate for lasting change by creating opportunities for students across campus to engage in more activities and events that inspire innovation, entrepreneurship, design thinking and creativity.

 

 


Ownership of student intellectual property – clarifying policies and dispelling myths

By Jim Baker

This is my first blog as a member of the Pavlis Honors College team. I work half time in the Honors College as co-director of the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship (ICE) alongside Mary Raber. ICE was established in the fall of 2015 to serve as a cross-campus resource to connect entrepreneurially-minded students, faculty and staff to resources and expertise that will help them advance their businesses and ideas into the market. Mary and I have both been involved in startup companies and established manufacturing companies and are building ICE within the Honors College to complement existing campus and community resources. In addition to my new role focused on enabling student innovation and entrepreneurship, the other half of my job involves creating companies and business opportunities around University technologies. I have a technical background with a PhD in engineering and am licensed to practice patent law in the United States.

Among the host of topics rattling around in my head on innovation, entrepreneurship, and various random issues, the ownership of intellectual property for students at Michigan Tech is one that comes up a lot and seems to remain a source of confusion and even mystery. In this post, I will clarify the University’s policies on intellectual property ownership for students.

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The University policy on Patents can be viewed online and provides for two sides of this issue. 1. The University has rights to “any software or invention conceived or reduced to practice by faculty, staff, and students in the course of University employment or research, or through the use of University facilities and equipment”, and 2. The University does not have rights to “inventions developed without the use of its funds, facilities, or equipment.”

University employment is quite simple – did you get a paycheck to do it? University research is also quite simple – is there a contract or other agreement in place that covers the project? The phrase “use of facilities and equipment” is sometimes a cause for concern and is perceived by some to allow the University to claim ownership to anything that a student does while they are at Michigan Tech. That is not the case, and this issue has been formally clarified in a memo issued by Dave Reed, Michigan Tech’s Vice President for Research.

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The memo lays out two very important qualifiers to the facilities and equipment issue. It requires that the facility/equipment be specialized and that the use be substantive. Any facility that is open to the entire student body is outside of the definition of specialized. A dorm room, the library, an open computer lab, and the Innovation Alley Makerspace are examples of things outside of the definition of specialized facilities and equipment because all students have access to them. The supercomputer cluster, electron optics equipment, and any specialized lab facilities would be specialized, however their use alone may not necessarily result in University ownership – the use must also be substantive to the creation of the invention in question.   For example, if you design something on your own computer and then make arrangements to simply have it made in a ‘specialized facility’ then that use is not substantive.

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All policies regarding facilities use still apply so you can’t open a retail store in your dorm room or us a machine shop to manufacture production parts but if you think of the next best invention in your dorm room and email a description to your friend from a University email account it’s all yours to do with as you please. I am hopeful that this post clarifies the policies and practices but if you have any remaining concerns I encourage you to reach out with your specific questions and circumstances. We can answer any questions you have, and through ICE, we can provide guidance on your path forward to customers as well as recommendations to other recourses that will be essential on your way there.

Jim Baker can usually be found at the Pavlis Honors College offices on Tuesdays or Thursdays. If you would like to set up an appointment with him to talk IP, please email Amy Karagiannakis (akaragia@mtu.edu).