Spartan Innovations, part of the Spartan Innovation Center at Michigan State, is nearing its second anniversary of providing the educational and financial support necessary to turn MSU research technologies into successful Michigan businesses. So we thought we’d check in with Director of Student & Community Engagement Paul Jaques and ask: What are you excited about, and how can MVCA members support the work of Spartan Innovations?
We are excited about the inventions and startup projects created by students and faculty at MSU.
One of our most recent Spartan Innovations-supported start ups is Courseweaver, an educational software company, with a mission to provide educators with flexible, powerful tools that frees teachers to teach with effective, tested teaching tools. We’re also proud of the year-over-year numbers at Phenometrics, which produces and distributes the Photo Bioreactor (PBR101), an advanced algae growing system. Used extensively in alternative energy, pharmaceuticals and nutriceuticals, the PBR101 allows consumers to quickly and easily determine the best growth factors for an algae strain.
We’re part of an effective system for commercialization at the MSU Innovation Center, comprised of MSU Business CONNECT, MSU Technologies, and Spartan Innovations. Together, we’ve increased licensing deals by 93% in 2014, and have plans to facilitate more than a dozen inventions into products, projects or spinouts with our eight CEOs in Residence at the helm this year.
Our CEOs in Residence select a specific technology that they will take to market, and become the CEO of that startup. A CEO in Residence may be with Spartan Innovations for more than a year, or a scant six weeks, depending on the technology and market conditions. Because of this, we’re always looking for capable CEOs in Residence to join Spartan Innovations.
If being a CEO in Residence isn’t the right fit, there are a number of additional ways to help Spartan Innovations. Every year is packed with events needing mentors, such as Greenlight Michigan, Broad Business Plan Competition, 3day Startup, SpartanStartup, The Hatching, and Startup Weekend. These events work with both faculty/staff inventions, as well as student ideas, and have grown tremendously. We also seek unique presenters to share insight into their professional experiences to mixed audiences of students, faculty, and Greater Lansing business members.
Both have great promise for the future, and showcase the diverse research underway at MSU. We’ve had a great two years, and we look forward to working with the VC community as we grow in the future.