Tag Archives: MIchigan Tech

Michigan Tech Students Win $30,000 at CMU New Venture Competition

By Amy Karagiannakis

Five student teams from Michigan Tech recently traveled to Central Michigan University to compete in the New Venture Competition. The seventh annual New Venture Competition took place on Friday, March 24th and was co-sponsored by the Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship (ICE) within the Pavlis Honors College at Michigan Tech. A total of 29 student teams competed: 24 from Central Michigan University, four from Michigan Technological University and one team with members from both universities. Students pitched their businesses to panels of experienced entrepreneurs through three consecutive rounds.

Multi-Dimensional Manufacturing led by Nick Dubeil (Mechanical Engineering) and Morgan Crocker (Scientific and Technical Communication) along with their product, The Metaloid, won Best Overall Venture which comes with $30,000 and a year of mentoring support from Blue Water Angels in Midland.  Dubiel and Crocker were invited to pitch their business for investment to Blue Water Angels at a pitch night the following week as well. Jim Baker, Executive Director of Innovation and Industry Engagement at Michigan Tech, served as Dubiel’s mentor for his participation in the competition. “Nick and Morgan’s success is a great example of the hands-on nature of the Michigan Tech experience and the resourcefulness of students who choose to come here. Their path to winning began when Nick got his hands dirty and built a 3D printer to demonstrate the specific advantages of his ideas over alternatives. They followed their technical validation by leveraging resources within the Pavlis Honors College and the Entrepreneurs Club to develop a compelling, and winning, business model and pitch,” shared Baker.

Photo courtesy of Central Michigan University.
Photo courtesy of Central Michigan University.

The core themes of CMU’s New Venture is the hands-on approach to proving that your product works and providing a business model that demonstrates an understanding of concepts that will attract investors and buyers. Dubiel and Crocker covered both criteria, enabling their win and attracting interested investors in the process. Ron Beebe, principal owner of Euclid Industries and founding member of the Blue Water Angels said, “I think the passion that (Dubiel) has for his product was probably the most significant factor. I invest in people. I think (Dubiel) is very smart, and he’s incredibly passionate about what he’s doing, plus it’s a good product.”

Dubiel developed his own 3D printer when he became frustrated with the inefficiencies of current 3D printing technology. By improving on the nozzle-based material delivery hardware and using temperature-sensing technology, Dubiel says The Metaloid can print eight times faster than conventional 3D printers currently on the market. “I was not expecting to do as well as I did in this (competition),” Dubiel said. “I have a lot of new decisions to make, but it will be fun, because I didn’t anticipate any of this.” He plans to begin selling his product at a price of $3,300.

Dubiel and Crocker participated in Michigan Tech’s National Science Foundation I-Corps Site Program in January. Directed by Mary Raber, Assistant Dean of the Pavlis Honors College, I-Corps is a team-based program structure that was developed through a partnership between the National Science Foundation (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. Michigan Tech will be holding the next I-Corps Site workshop in August.

This is the 7th year of the New Venture competition and the 6th year of Michigan Tech’s partnership with CMU. Last year, Michigan Tech had two category winners and a pitch competition win totaling $21,500 in prizes. Michigan Tech’s Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship (ICE) within the Pavlis Honors College continues to be an excellent resource for students looking to start their own business or bring new ideas or concepts to the next stage of development. The mission of the Center is to harness the potential of the Michigan Tech campus community to innovate, develop, and implement ideas and inventions by building and maintaining a strong and integrated ecosystem with a cohesive set of entrepreneurial and innovation resources to enable success. Students interested in harnessing their potential to innovate, develop, and implement their ideas and inventions are encouraged to stop in the Pavlis Honors College (M&M 722) to learn more about ICE and all of the resources available to them. A schedule of upcoming student innovator and entrepreneur competitions can be found here.


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).