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Innovation Strike Teams


Our Innovation Strike Teams program is a ‘learn-by-doing’ approach on a shoestring budget that makes it an efficient, effective, and attractive research and analysis tool for startup projects, funding agencies and VC firms, and students.

  • This program:
    • Is open to any current U of M graduate student, including but not limited to: Engineering, Business, Medicine and Law (we’re sorry, but only current UM students are eligible for this program)
    • Accepts applications on a rolling basis
    • Is time-variable but usually a semester long
    • Is paid co-curricular opportunity-assessment research
  • Students:
    • Will act as consultants and thoroughly investigate, analyze, and propose actionable, data-based solutions to project needs within the prescribed timeframe
    • Will perform their work on-campus (a key factor for international students and those without transportation)
    • Will be trained to perform their work as needed
    • Are expected to spend about 5-10 hours each week working on these projects including time spent at the weekly meetings
    • Will be paid a small stipend


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RITMO: Urban Transportation and Mobility (Winter 2018)

The RITMO project focuses on urban transportation and mobility. It builds on two key enablers, connected and automated vehicles, and leverages the tremendous progress in artificial intelligence, data science, and operations research to design and operate a new generation of on-demand urban transit systems. RITMO assembles a multidisciplinary team of researchers, from computer science, industrial and operations engineering, medicine, the school of information, urban planning, and the transportation research institute.  One of the main focuses of the project is to improve accessibility to jobs, health-care, and education for all segments of the population.

Applicant Qualifications and Requirements

  1. Graduate or PhD student
  2. Degree or current student in law, business or engineering preferred
  3. Candidate should be able to work independently with weekly check-in meetings
  4. Experience or training in analyzing business models is a plus
  5. It is also expected that the candidate will conduct phone or in-person interviews with investors, experts, companies, and other relevant people.
  6. Ability to communicate technical material succinctly without oversimplification
  7. Minimum of 8 to 10 hours per week, duration is January to May with potential for summer work

Legal and Insurance Investigations (1 position, Law School student preferred)

  • Undertake investigations in the areas of shared mobility risk, contracting, HR and insurance
  • Provide information to guide commercialization of research  

Business plan modeling (1 position, Ross MBA student preferred)

  • Develop business plans for multiple scenarios using existing RITMO business plan modeling tool
  • Perform benchmarking on inputs to business plan

Marketing Strategy (1 position, Ross MBA student preferred)

  • Develop marketing strategies to encourage adoption by transit agencies
  • Develop marketing strategies to encourage usage by end customers (prospective riders)
  • Develop pricing and positioning strategies
  • Update marketing materials

General Benchmarking and Customer Discovery (1 position, open to all grad students)

  • Target customers for interview during customer discovery process
  • Participate with RITMO team in external interviews
Monroe-Brown Biomedical Seed Fund (Winter 2018)

The fund’s goal is to understand and inform what we should be focusing on as we look at deals within UM.  We want to get external feedback from developments and trends outside of UM to create a stronger investment thesis.

In a particular area of interest or project, we will attempt to analyze all of the activity that is occurring. We will be looking at major trends such as:

  • Investments that are being funded by venture capital
  • Recent acquisitions by larger companies
  • Current and anticipated regulatory changes
  • Insurance reimbursements and issues with acceptance by payers
  • Comparison of approaches:  technology, pathways, MOA
  • Customer discovery and export feedback


Applicant Qualifications and Requirements

  1. Graduate or PhD student
  2. A degree in BME, Molecular Cellular Biology, or Medicine would be a preferred
  3. Candidate should be able to work independently with weekly check-in meetings
  4. Experience or training in analyzing business models is a plus
  5. Key skill is the ability to read a lot of literature and identify relevant material. You have to enjoy reading dense, scientific papers and be able to distill that information succinctly.
  6. It is also expected that the candidate will conduct phone or in-person interviews with investors, experts, companies, and other relevant people.
  7. Ability to communicate technical material succinctly without oversimplification
  8. Time commitment is a minimum of 8 to 10 hours per week.


Project List

  1. Effect of wearable technology on diagnostics
  2. Effect of healthcare IT on rising costs of healthcare
  3. Genomics: the next revolution?
  4. Precision medicine: beyond the hype and hyperbole


We accept applications on a rolling basis.

Interested applicants should read through the CURRENT PROJECTS listed below then submit their applications here.

Questions or problems should be directed to striketeams@umich.edu


 Rolling basis:  Applications Open
 Within a week:  Interview are Performed
 Over two weeks:  Training and Orientation Sessions [optional]
 Variable:  Begin Work on Live Projects



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Why do we need Innovation Strike Teams?
The Lean LaunchPad method requires startup teams to conduct customer discovery to validate their ideas.  However, early stage teams struggle to ask the right questions and have a difficult time interpreting (the often negative) answers.  This program uses students in a 3rd party discovery capacity to identify the key project risks and provide direction to the startups own discovery process.
What are the Innovation Strike Teams?
The Innovation Strike Teams are cross-functional teams made up of students from Engineering, Law, Business and Medicine that act as a team of consultants and help assess companies/projects from a market, technical, and intellectual property perspective. Via primary and secondary research these teams identify the key issues, gaps, and potential roadblocks for projects from faculty, translational programs, or industry clients.
Who benefits from the Innovation Strike Teams?
  • Teams augment the capability of their clients to conduct market/business investigation saving them time and effort at low (no) cost.
  • Teams provide clients with ‘outside’ view of the project and validate assumptions by collecting the necessary data.
  • Gives students a resume-building experience in a cross-disciplinary team and making an impact on a real-world project.
  • Teams enable granting and funding programs to make better decisions by collecting data from customers, experts, and literature.
What do the Innovation Strike Teams offer?
Clients along with the Strike Team Program Manager will create a Project-Needs Assessment based on the modules listed below. The Innovation Strike Team will then conduct primary research with customers, experts, stakeholders and collect data from secondary research as necessary to fulfill the client needs.   Modules:

  • Technology capability assessment and comparison
  • IP Assessment – Patent search, FTO, etc.
  • Brainstorming Markets for Technology: finding the problem
  • Product-Market fit and Value Proposition analysis
  • Competitor and other solutions
  • Customer needs assessment and finding
  • Business model assessment (Market risk, scale risk, profitability)
  • Team assessment
  • Investment Thesis
  • Eco-system maps (Patient-flow, Value chain, purchase & clinical decision process)
Who will be served?
Projects/companies from faculty, translational programs, funding programs, industry sponsors will be accepted based on the specificity of the question, availability and fit with student teams, timeline, and the level of commitment. *Note: Clients are expected to defray the student stipend costs

Proposed clients Stage Needs that will be addressed
Faculty project Very early: idea Research capability with unclear market
Post and pre-Corps team  Early: market/business assessment Support pre- and post ICORPS teams with customer discovery and gap assessment
Current Desai Accelerator company Mature, Seed: customer validation Seed and pre-Series A due diligence; collecting market and competitor data
Tech Arb – feedback on idea viability, customer discovery Very early to early: student projects feedback on idea viability, customer discovery
MBSF teams – Due diligence Mature, Seed level Investment due-diligence
Local VC firms Seed to Pre-Seed, or exploratory work Investment due-diligence, space exploration and tech deep-dive
Externally sourced projects on specific product or prototype – e.g.: Beaumont Early: market/business/tech assessment external sourced projects on specific product or prototype – e.g.: Beaumont
Tech Transfer: licensing &, Venture Center Early or Seed OTT  – licensing, Venture Center teams