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Volume 1, Issue 4
April 2009

Promoting the Ideas, Innovations, and Excellence of Michigan Businesses

The Eli Broad College of Business Institute for Entrepreneurship

Michigan's economic woes are well known. Yet, in 2006, over 23,000 new businesses were created in Michigan, according to the United States Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy. Creating new businesses, helping them flourish, and assisting established companies in reinventing their business models are vital to Michigan's economic recovery. The Eli Broad College of Business Institute for Entrepreneurship plays an important role in assisting that recovery by guiding and supporting the entrepreneurial activities of new and existing companies.

The Institute for Entrepreneurship was created in 2006 to advance and promote entrepreneurship at Michigan State University and across Michigan through research, education, and outreach. Its research and other initiatives provide a variety of resources to entrepreneurs who are working to fill particular market niches.

The Institute brings together the knowledge and expertise of Broad College faculty and facilitates their collaboration with entrepreneurs from across the university and Michigan communities. It also provides a channel for faculty and students to share research ideas and collaborate.

The research agenda includes applied research and leading-edge academic articles on entrepreneurship and venture capital, the local entrepreneurial climate in Michigan, and new product development, commercialization, and markets. The Institute disseminates its research knowledge to a variety of constituents, including MSU alumni and community high-tech and biotech entrepreneurs, venture capital and private equity practitioners, the State legislature, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

The Institute helps to stimulate economic development in Michigan by providing valuable resources to emerging firms, while also supporting MSU researchers in the commercialization of their innovations and products. The Institute, in providing outreach resources, partners mainly with businesses where financial and knowledge-based resources are needed to help the company move to the next growth stage. Thus, the focus is not on companies at the start-up stage but rather on companies at later stages in their growth cycle, and on high tech firms. These companies, typically, are the ones most likely to create jobs and positively impact the state economy.

Imaging the Future

One current initiative is "Imaging the Future: Revitalization of Mid-Michigan Companies Through Deep Strategic Change," which is funded by a grant from the Michigan Initiative for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MIIE) program. The focus is on helping the participating companies maximize their growth potential and create new jobs for Michigan workers. The project was designed for small and medium-sized businesses to learn about, and have access to, cutting-edge knowledge and expertise that otherwise might not be available to them.

The five mid-Michigan companies participating are Demmer Corporation, Peckham Industries, Quality Dairy Company, Sparrow Health Systems, and Spartan Motors. The project is designed to guide the participating companies in identifying challenges and opportunities for growth and in developing strategies for competitive advantage. Dr. Shawnee K.Vickery and Dr. Roger Calantone lead the project team, which includes two second-year Broad MBA students, Kim Crawford and Ruppy Singh.

Over the past few months, the project team has worked with the participating companies on a number of strategic issues vital to growth. The team assisted one company in defining new strategies for improving the profitability of a manufacturing facility by better utilizing its capacity. In another case, the team worked with a company to support its diversification and expansion goals by developing a strategy map/balanced scorecard and engaging its top management team in a scenario analysis exercise that led to the development of contingency plans for addressing environmental uncertainties. Another company benefited from the team's guidance in developing a comprehensive strategy for its retail units that would leverage an advantage gained from a recent change in the parent organization's status. The team is also assisting one of the companies in capturing and communicating its values more effectively and in infusing a culture of innovation across its business lines.

As a result of the project team's work, Quality Dairy Company recently hired a 2009 Broad MBA graduate, Gabriel Iocco, to serve as its new Marketing Coordinator. Iocco will be responsible for developing Quality Dairy's Auntie Em Bakery brand for wholesale products and for forging and strengthening relationships with brokers and supermarket buyers. Stanley Martin, CEO and President of Quality Dairy Company, said "The work of the MIIE project team has introduced us to what MSU has to offer mid-Michigan companies and I am amazed at the talent available to provide assistance. The team has helped us become more fully informed about the opportunities and threats facing us and has guided us in developing strategies that foster the learning and growth we need to improve our competitive abilities."

The Institute for Entrepreneurship includes two centers of excellence. The Center for Venture Capital, Private Equity, and Entrepreneurial Finance is led by Dr. Zsuzsanna Fluck, and the Center for Entrepreneurial Strategy is led by Dr. Roger Calantone, who also co-directs the Institute for Entrepreneurship with Dr. Shawnee K.Vickery.

  • Compiled by Catherine Gibson, University Outreach and Engagement
  • In cooperation with Shawnee K. Vickery, Department of Supply Chain Management
  • Additional information courtesy of The Eli Broad College of Business and the Institute for Entrepreneurship