Michigan State University masthead graphic Michigan State University masthead graphic
 
Volume 2, Issue 3
February 2010

MSU Business-CONNECT has the 'University Door Open' for Entrepreneurs, Research Partnerships, and Economic Development

A new resource at Michigan State University is designed to "open the door" for corporations, entrepreneurs and members of the business community to partner with the University in research and regional economic development.

MSU Business-CONNECT facilitates the connections between those seeking to leverage MSU's vast wealth of resources by serving as a visible, knowledgeable, accessible, and responsive contact for critical information and relationship building.

Dr. Charles A. Hasemann serves as MSU Business-CONNECT's executive director and is focused on three specific goals for MSU Business-CONNECT.

Three Goals for MSU Business-CONNECT

First, the initiative will foster research collaborations with industry, where common scientific interest will lead to the development of new ideas and the refinement of innovations, creating a smoother path on the difficult journey from idea to marketplace.

Second, it will provide support both to entrepreneurs working to establish a new company and to small companies seeking to boost product development, or advance a new company initiative. Dr. Hasemann and his team will connect entrepreneurs to university experts where common interests, objectives, or technical capabilities can lead to win-win relationships for both.

Third, MSU Business-CONNECT will facilitate connections between the university and the many groups working on Michigan's economic development. The innovation engines of Michigan's universities are an important factor in a stronger Michigan economy, and Business-CONNECT will be a responsive collaborator for Michigan economic development agencies and initiatives.

"Our land-grant heritage means that we constantly ask how we can translate our discoveries into tangible outcomes for our region and the world," says Dr. Hasemann. "MSU Business-CONNECT is a front door for entrepreneurs and business leaders. We can put them in touch with university experts, scientific equipment and facilities, draw upon international connections, and navigate the vast knowledge base that extends across our faculty and staff, to our libraries, collections, and source materials. MSU is a big place, but we can make it a very personal experience for those working with us."

Collaboration with West Michigan Manufacturers

A current collaboration is with The Right Place, Inc., a nonprofit economic development organization created in 1985 to advance the West Michigan economy. Among their strategic priorities: lead regional business development efforts, identify and develop emerging growth opportunities, and strengthen the global competitiveness and innovation of existing regional manufacturers. Bill Foley leads advanced production initiatives for The Right Place, Inc., and has coordinated the collaboration between MSU Business-CONNECT and the West Michigan Manufacturers' Council.

"Our participants operate small to mid-sized manufacturing companies that are dedicated to keeping the region vibrant, competitive, and forward-moving," says Foley. "We performed a needs analysis that documented what manufacturers needed and turned that over to Dr. Hasemann. He pulled together a mixture of MSU resources, including faculty, students, tech transfer, and intellectual property information. There are some interesting technologies with market potential. The dialogue continues, and could lead to beneficial outcomes."

Foley adds, "Working with Dr. Hasemann means we have confidence that we can talk to the right people, and receive quicker feedback about opportunities or challenges for collaborations with MSU. Time is valuable, and our manufacturing decision makers want dynamic, forward-moving relationships, because their economic survival depends on it."

Leveraging Resources to Make Things Happen

Hasemann's own background as a top research executive at Pfizer, and his PhD in molecular immunology, have well prepared him to successfully bridge the worlds of business and academia. He is also building a professional team to assist in the academic, scientific, legal and knowledge management initiatives of MSU Business-CONNECT. He sees the potential of the unit in its ability to leverage all of MSU's resources to make things happen quickly.

"For example," he says, "we work closely with MSU Technologies, the office responsible for university technology commercialization. Together we can navigate the complex landscape of partnerships in research and commercialization, from idea to market. This is critical, because the innovations created in sponsored research, the licensed technologies, and the spin-off companies that MSU faculty originates are the engines for Michigan's new economy."

In fact, Business-CONNECT will soon be located next to the MSU Technologies offices. Both units will be in the East Lansing SmartZone space, adjacent to the East Lansing Technology Innovation Center, 325 E. Grand River in downtown East Lansing, above the Barnes & Noble Booksellers store.

For more information about MSU Business-CONNECT contact Dr. Charles A. Hasemann at bconnect@msu.edu.

  • Written by Carla Hills, University Outreach and Engagement