Three Ideas to Help Entrepreneurs Do What Entrepreneurs Do Best

5/14/10Follow @anneswift

Entrepreneurs in Michigan can reinvigorate the economy by doing what innovators do best: using existing resources to create new value. Here are three resources Michiganders can leverage:

1. Michigan’s world-class universities—After the collapse of the steel industry in Pittsburgh, universities filled the void with new technology start-ups. The University of Michigan is one of the top 10 universities in the nation for commercializing cleantech research. Two university start-ups, T/J Technologies and Sensicore, were recently acquired, despite the economic environment. Michigan’s dozens of universities provide partnership opportunities and a well-educated workforce.

2. Michigan’s existing manufacturing base—Manufacturing overseas poses expensive new problems, including intellectual property theft, environmental costs, unreliable delivery schedules, and poorly trained workers. Companies from Caterpillar to General Electric are moving manufacturing back to the U.S.. Many factories in the Northeast have spare capacity that entrepreneurs might be able to buy for short production runs at a substantial discount.

3. Michigan’s incentives—Michigan’s government is providing $2 billion over 10 years through its 21st Century Jobs Fund to support university technology transfer and commercialization. In addition, there are generous tax breaks and incentives for job training. The State of Michigan supports a broad range of ventures that can benefit from an advanced manufacturing base, unlike other regions that focus on specific sectors.

[Editor's note: To help launch Xconomy Detroit, we've queried our network of Xconomists and other innovation leaders around the country for their list of the most important things that entrepreneurs and innovators in Michigan can do to reinvigorate their regional economy.]

Anne Swift is the Head of Marketing (a.k.a. Chief Marketing Nut) at Nuts.com and a Director of the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences. She is also the founder of Young Inventors International, which has helped thousands of university innovators around the world through online and offline events. Follow @anneswift

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