Aimed at supporting the continued economic growth and stimulation of Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF)—administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)—has approved funding extensions totaling $1.8 million for six statewide programs. Each program strategically capitalizes on resources allocated through state funding to promote early-stage startups and the commercialization of cutting-edge technologies.
Funding and amended guidelines approved by MSF include:
- 2015 Business Incubator Gateway Grants ($544,613)
- Central Michigan University Research Corporation, Lansing Economic Area Partnership, Macomb-Oakland University Incubator, Muskegon Innovation Hub, Midland Tomorrow and Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine
- 2016 Business Incubator Grants ($326,060)
- Innovation Marquette Enterprise Corporation, Michigan Tech Enterprise Corporation, Lenawee Now and Lakeshore Advantage
- 2017 Business Incubator Gateway Grants ($120,535)
- Oakland University Incubator, Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County
- Lake Superior State University ($40,000)
- Lawrence Technological University ($100,000)
“Investing in the future of Michigan’s ecosystem means investing in the entrepreneurs who are dedicated to innovation and leading their respective industries in cutting-edge technology,” said Fred Molnar, vice president of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at MEDC. “Our SmartZones are making a definitive impact on the way the world views Michigan by creating, preserving and growing our economy with support of programs administered by the MEDC.”
Michigan SmartZones provide distinct geographical locations where technology-based firms, entrepreneurs and researchers locate in close proximity to all of the community assets that assist in their endeavors. Following investments in SmartZone programs with a goal to diversify the economy and to capitalize on the state’s growing pool of skilled workers, “Gateway representatives” oversee the local SmartZone processes. Through funding provided by the MSF, Gateway representatives provide mentorship, a resource for strategic partnerships, an overview of the state’s economic resources and fundraising efforts to local entrepreneurs.
The Business Incubator Gateway Grant program further supports Gateway representatives in: vetting and welcoming tech companies into the local ecosystem; providing an overview of the Michigan statewide tech ecosystem; recruiting and developing other tech companies to local SmartZones; developing local SmartZone business activities and providing strategic business guidance; helping companies with fundraising efforts; and connecting companies with various available entrepreneurial resources across the state.
Since its launch in 2015, the Business Incubator program has helped SmartZones facilitate the formation of 389 new companies and generation of 1,817 jobs, while also helping their clients raise $350 million in private investment and generate over $314 million in new revenues.
“SmartZones provide a definitive location where startups and technology-based organizations can grow and develop under professional and directive leadership,” said Nadia Abunasser, federal and development projects director at MEDC. “As Michigan is recognized as a hub for technological advances and a growing base for start-ups, it is critical for entrepreneurs to recognize you do not have to be a part of the Silicon Valley community to be successful as a startup. The growth starts here in Michigan.”
In addition to the $1.13 million approved to fund and amend existing Incubator and Gateway grants, MEDC received approval from the MSF Board on funding in the amount of $668,792 for the development of the 2019 Business Incubator Program. A request for proposal will be issued for the 2019 Business Incubator in December.