January 26, 2016 – In the pursuit to promote economic growth and produce a progressive entrepreneurial ecosystem, the University of Michigan’s Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE) is continuing in its charge to train partner institutions around the State through funding from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Recently, Governor Rick Snyder highlighted the Upper Peninsula’s initiative to create a culture of continuous innovation in his 2016 State of the State address.

“Inventors were walking in with ideas; the students were talking with those inventors about the ones that could be made into real products. It’s happening in Marquette today. This is a program that should be throughout Michigan. It’s exciting,” noted the Governor.

It is not by happenstance that U-M CFE’s newest partnership is with Northern Michigan’s Invent@NMU program. The U-M CFE launched its Introduction to Customer Discovery (ICD) program at Invent@NMU on January 26, 2016 with a cohort of four teams looking to test their research and ideas in the market. The U-M CFE ICD program is designed to build a business case for innovation. During the 4-week ICD program, teams are required to engage in conversation with industry customers and competitors. Through the process, participants undoubtedly uncover market opportunities and discover where their research could best be applied to generate impact.

“The opportunity to partner with U-M provides the faculty of NMU a truly unique opportunity,” said David Ollila, Executive Director of Invent@NMU. “Moving any idea forward requires conversations with equally passionate people and by connecting through this program we are beginning to have robust dialogues with the most experienced leaders in entrepreneurship,”

The goal of all the commercialization programs facilitated by the U-M CFE is to provide real world, hands-on, learning experiences that increase the probability of university innovations successfully reaching the market, thereby growing and stimulating economic development in the state of Michigan.

More about the program: ICD is perfect for early stage projects looking to assess commercial opportunity and gives participants a taste of what they could expect if they choose to apply for a National Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program. Participating teams are properly prepped and become eligible to apply for a NSF I-Corps program, which brings even more in-depth mentoring, customer discovery work and the potential for $50,000 in funding.

If you are interested in the Introduction to Customer Discovery course, or exploring your customer base, growing your discovery tactics and becoming a U-M CFE program partner, please contact Gurhari Singh at gurhari@umich.edu.

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