Advocates for entrepreneurship

Kathleen Achtenberg

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Annual event promotes innovative spirit, builds statewide momentum

Entrepreneurs and innovators from across Michigan gathered on Jan. 26 at the Annual Collaboration for Entrepreneurship (ACE) event in Southfield to celebrate, promote and advocate for entrepreneurship across the Great Lakes region.


Nearly 1,000 entrepreneurs, service providers, investors, students, government agents and members of the business community attended to gain access to the best and brightest start-up experts, and connect with successful area businesses and investors, including leaders from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s entrepreneurship and innovation team and its affiliated programs. 

The entrepreneurial movement in Michigan is the envy of states across the country, so it was great to see so many entrepreneurs – both new and veteran – in attendance at ACE asking questions, sharing ideas and providing counsel to help continue the tremendous momentum that has been developed in recent years. Whether featuring business owners, successful CEOs or directors at SmartZones and Incubators throughout the state, conversations were insightful and beneficial to all in attendance.    

Throughout the day, attendees participated in panel discussions, Pitch Pit events and networking sessions. Panel discussions covered a variety of topics essential for entrepreneurs seeking to start or grow a business. 

As an attendee at ACE, I had the opportunity to serve on a panel focused on the availability and importance of Michigan support services provided by MEDC. In this workshop, featuring Charlie Moret, president at Invest Michigan, Steve Wilson, director of technology innovation and commercialization services at the University of Michigan, and Sandra Cochrane, technology business consultant at the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), we sought to hold an open discussion for entrepreneurs seeking low-cost resources and programs to help launch their business. Additionally, information on dozens of programs was shared to help entrepreneurs find low- or no-cost resources relevant to their specific business interest.   

One of the key take-aways shared with entrepreneurs was to start with their local SmartZone and SDBC. Michigan has 15 SmartZones across the state that can provide services and resources for any interested entrepreneur. SBDCs are another invaluable resource for start-ups, as they provide counseling, training, and secondary market research for new ventures, existing small businesses and advanced technology companies. 

ACE offers something for everyone – whether you’re fresh out of school looking for guidance and mentorship on starting your own business, or a seasoned veteran starting another venture seeking information on various services and resources at your disposal. I strongly encourage entrepreneurs and innovators to take advantage of this key networking event in the future.  

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