Cultivating the entrepreneurial spirit

Kathleen Achtenberg

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

U-M program promotes mentoring, teaching commercialized strategies

With the aim of further establishing Michigan as a leading state for high-tech companies, the Michigan Strategic Fund approved extended funding for “Train the Trainers,” a program managed by the University of Michigan’s Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE). 


Through the approximately $200,000 grant, the program will train entrepreneurs, researchers and inventors while expanding the level of mentoring and teaching of commercialized strategies. 

Additional funding for “Train the Trainers” maintains the programmatic excellence established in the first two years of the program and allow institutions across Michigan to continue benefiting from the partnership with the Center for Entrepreneurship. The training works in partnership with the Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) program, which supports the acceleration of commercially viable advanced applied material technologies developed by university researchers.

“As we continue to expand and deepen our opportunities for research to transfer from our universities to commercial application, it is crucial that we continue to provide training resources,” said Denise Graves, university relations director, a division of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). “This program will support our current MTRAC programs and be vital to our future innovation hubs as we implement the program statewide,” said Graves.

The MEDC administers programs and performs due diligence on grants, loans, collateral agreements and approved funds. In addition, the MEDC is the state’s chief marketing agency engaged in business attraction and retention efforts along with serving as a catalyst for job creation.

Since launching in 2014 through $582,376 in support from the state, U-M has partnered with various universities – Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University, Lawrence Tech University and more – sharing best practices on how to turn entrepreneurial theories and research into practice.  


The grant extension follows two successful years of the program’s achievements, including more than 450 participants and 90 instructors from 15 institutions completing the Train the Trainer’s curriculum. This has resulted in the creation of 14 start-ups and over 30 jobs in the state. Additionally, it has helped establish the Michigan as a destination to create and grow a successful business

“Over the past two years, we have had the opportunity to support innovators across the state who are working hard to establish Michigan as a leader in commercializing advanced technology,” said Jonathan Fay, U-M CFE managing director. “We are eager to continue this work over the next year and beyond.” 

The program milestones put forth by U-M CFE demonstrate support for MEDC’s entrepreneur and innovation initiative, which aims to establish Michigan as the place to create and grow business by providing high-tech start-up companies with access to a variety of critical resources, such as funding and expert counsel, from ideation to maturation. For more on MEDC entrepreneurship and innovation, visit For more on U-M CFE, visit

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