MSU Nets $1 Million to Help Michigan Entrepreneurs Launch Green Chemistry Businesses

MSU is helping Michigan entrepreneurs through its proof of concept center. Photo by G.L. Kohuth.

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Thanks to Michigan State University, Michigan entrepreneurs earned an economic boost from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration to create a proof of concept center for green chemistry scale-ups.

By being one of six winners of the EDA’s i6 Green Challenge, a consortium between MSU, Lakeshore Advantage, Prima Civitas Foundation and the NewNorth Center for Design in Business will collectively receive $580,000 in EDA funding plus $500,000 from the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

The proof of concept center will be located in MSU’s Bioeconomy Institute in Holland. The center will help support the i6’s mission of driving technology commercialization and entrepreneurship in support of a green innovation economy, increased U.S. competitiveness and new jobs.

The center will support emerging technology-based ventures as they mature and demonstrate their market potential, making them more attractive to investors and helping entrepreneurs turn their ideas and innovations into businesses, said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon.

“Michigan has a long history of entrepreneurship, and our economy depends on both innovation and commercialization,” Simon said. “Winning this grant showcases MSU as a key player in Michigan’s renewal with benefits expanding well beyond our campus. This will certainly support the development of green jobs across the state.”

MSU will use the grant to operate the site, offer support services to entrepreneurs, assist client firms in obtaining U.S. Department of Agriculture BioPreferred designations, recruit green-technology incubator occupants and more.

“When we make things and grow things in Michigan, we create jobs in Michigan,” said U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow. “Thanks to the important research at MSU’s Bioeconomy Institute, bio-based manufacturers are using products grown in Michigan to make products here in Michigan. Michigan is at the forefront of bio-based manufacturing, and I am fully committed to expanding this new and growing industry to create new jobs.”

In addition, all of the i6 winners can apply for $6 million in additional funding and technical assistance from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The i6 Green initiative focuses on promoting proof of concept centers’ methodologies, which support all aspects of the entrepreneurship process, from assisting with technology feasibility and business plan development, to providing access to early-stage capital and mentors that can offer critical guidance to innovators.

“This award recognizes the engineering talent and entrepreneurship here in Michigan, as well as the world-class capabilities of MSU to harness that talent to create jobs for the people of Michigan,” said state Sen. Mark Jansen.

According to recent studies, venture capitalists are more frequently investing in later-stage enterprises, so researchers sometimes find it difficult to get early-stage funding to do the necessary research and development of their ideas. Proof of concept centers help try to bridge that gap. They facilitate the transfer of research into innovative activity and products and services for the marketplace.

For more information on i6 Green and the additional winners click here.

Source: MSU News Release, Sept. 30, 2011