Michigan Drives Collaboration Between Universities, Innovators and Defense Industry Leaders

Friday, May 21, 2021

Department of Defense program appoints Len Haidl to University of Michigan to identify innovative solutions to national security challenges while supporting technology transfer initiatives

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan continues to take a comprehensive approach to supporting innovative public-private partnerships that can offer real-world solutions, solve industry challenges and address national security needs. As a result of these ongoing efforts statewide, the University of Michigan and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) have launched a new collaboration through the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN), a DoD program focused on connecting academia and industry to solve national security problems.

Through this innovative partnership, Len Haidl has been appointed to join the University of Michigan as its new University Program Director. Haidl will be based in the university’s Office of Technology Transfer where he will collaborate with local high-tech startup and venture capital communities to help strengthen partnerships between them, DoD, the university and industry leaders throughout the state.

“Michigan has long been known for our culture of innovation, as home to the Arsenal of Democracy during World War II, and more recently assembling an Arsenal of Innovation to combat the COVID-19 crisis. Looking ahead, we continue to build on our proud legacy by testing, developing and deploying next-generation technologies that will keep all Americans safe, both at home and abroad,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “We appreciate the Biden-Harris Administration recognizing Michigan’s continued innovation and leadership through this new appointment from the National Security Innovation Network and are pleased to welcome Len into this exciting new role. By working together to build on our strengths in advanced manufacturing, technology and R&D here in Michigan, we are helping pave the way for the solutions of tomorrow.”

This announcement marks the culmination of an 18-month-long collaboration between the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), University of Michigan and the Department of Defense to establish an NSIN office in Michigan. With Haidl’s appointment, the University of Michigan is now the 14th university in the nation to partner with NSIN and the second university in the Great Lakes region.

"I am extremely humbled by this opportunity to serve with the National Security Innovation Network at the University of Michigan and to work with the innovators and defense industry across the great state of Michigan,” Haidl said. “During my 27-year career in the Navy, I was grateful for the technological edge found in the platforms and systems I operated. I look forward to working with industry partners, non-traditional problem solvers, academics, and dynamic innovators to ensure our current service members and the national security professionals writ large continue to have that same technological edge. Michigan has a storied tradition as the Arsenal of Democracy and I look forward to protecting and growing that legacy through NSIN programming."

U.S. Armed Forces has undertaken a momentous shift in modernization and technological upgrades in equipment and solutions to be sure that the U.S. continues to be the world’s strongest military. By partnering with NSIN, the MEDC, through the Michigan Defense Center, is bringing together new communities of innovators to solve national security challenges and develop new technologies by leveraging the innovation that exists within Michigan’s robust research and development community.

“Our near peer adversaries are working hard to best the United States in emerging technologies like autonomy, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Platform Cyber Security and Alternative platform energies,” said Vicki Selva, Executive Director of MEDC’s Michigan Defense Center. “Michigan is the global leader in these types of solutions and so it is important to the state and the nation that DoD be able to tap into our pipeline of talent and innovation. We look forward to helping NSIN foster productive relationships between our robust commercial, industrial and military R&D communities.”

This appointment also underscores Michigan’s continued efforts to grow technologies out of its expansive university network and its ongoing support for tech transfer activities across the state, which help bring research and technologies developed at the university into the commercial market to have real-world impacts. Haidl’s work will involve close coordination with the MEDC’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation initiative to connect with local high-tech startups and venture capital communities to develop opportunities and form new partnerships with the state’s expansive university network and commercial technology companies.

“The University of Michigan is pleased to partner with NSIN and to build on our long-standing relationship with the MEDC,” said Kelly Sexton, Associate Vice President for Research, Technology Transfer and Innovation Partnerships at University of Michigan. “This program will serve our campus innovation ecosystem and the entrepreneurial and business communities within Michigan by connecting them with key Department of Defense programs and resources. This collaboration will allow us to ensure that our research discoveries are translated and commercialized in ways that enhance societal wellbeing, create regional economic prosperity, and ensure our nation’s continued technological preeminence.”

“Michigan’s universities are ground zero for innovative research and technologies that change the way we live, interact with one another and keep ourselves and our nation safe,” said Denise Graves, University Relations Director at MEDC. “We are thrilled to welcome Len into this new role and will continue working together with him, his colleagues at the University of Michigan and across the state to foster our collaborative ecosystem and introduce new inventions from the lab into the marketplace.”

About University of Michigan
One of the nation’s top public universities, the University of Michigan has been a leader in research, learning and teaching for more than 200 years. With the highest research volume of all public universities in the country, U-M is advancing new solutions and knowledge in areas ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to driverless vehicle technology, social justice and carbon neutrality. Its main campus in Ann Arbor comprises 19 schools and colleges; there are also regional campuses in Dearborn and Flint, and a nationally ranked health system, Michigan Medicine. The university also boasts a world-renowned intercollegiate athletics program and has been the site of many important events in U.S. history, including JFK’s announcement of the Peace Corps, LBJ’s “Great Society” speech, and the clinical trials of the Salk polio vaccine. U-M’s alumni body is one of the largest in the world and includes a U.S. president, scientists, actors, astronauts and inventors.

About the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN)
The National Security Innovation Network's mission is to "build networks of innovators that generate new solutions to national security problems." National Security Innovation Network is headquartered in Arlington, Va., and has regional offices in 11 commercial innovation hubs throughout the United States. Through its headquarters, regional hubs and embedded university partnerships, National Security Innovation Network builds a national network of innovators and delivers programming that solves real-world, Department of Defense problems through collaborative partnerships with nontraditional problem solvers within the academic and early-stage venture communities.

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.