First Impressions of Michigan’s Innovation Landscape: An Institutional Legacy, A Fragmented Entrepreneurial Community, and Some Unexpected Promising Sectors
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even within the University of Michigan, entrepreneur-focused organizations are often housed at separate schools and isolated from one another.
Volz, meanwhile, says that part of the challenge in growing an innovation culture in the region is that working for large institutions, not entrepreneurship, has historically been the norm for people who grow up and/or go to school in the area, Volz says.
Volz says the LaunchPad program’s mentors will have to work to convince students that entrepreneurship is a desirable path, and not a last resort. “The whole idea is entrepreneurship is a career choice for students, and it’s not what happens when no one else offers you a job,” says Volz.
2) Early stage funding is a challenge in Michigan, just like everywhere else, but the area shouldn’t look to the government.
Some challenges transcend geographies. Many in the Boston-area bemoan the lack of early-stage funding for startups, a concern that was echoed for the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas. “There’s a lack of seed stage funding and a culture around angel investing,” Song says. “Not everyone can build a company on the side from their day job. But that’s a problem everywhere.”
It may be a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy for the Detroit area, though. Standout startup ideas are needed to attract more investors to the region, Volz says. “One way to bring that investment capital to Detroit is to have good ideas with which they could be successful,” he says.
Michigan has a greater availability of government grants and tax incentives than any of the other regions Xconomy covers, but those looking to transform the area are wary of fully depending on that assistance. “Depending on the government—it plays to a stereotype and the whole idea is to move from a stereotype,” Volz says. “There’s something dynamic going on here; Henry Ford was not … Next Page »