Entrepreneurs take ideas to business at OU incubator

For entrepreneurs looking to get business support in Oakland County, Oakland University’s OU INCubator could be your answer. It’s a place for technology-based and life sciences businesses to let their ideas take root.

What sets this incubator apart from its peers is the formation of the Ideas 2 Business (I2B) lab.  Here current students, alumni and faculty of Oakland University and Cooley Law School can find the resources they need to help their business survive. It is also a place for students from the School of Business Administration and the School of Engineering and Computer Sciences to get hands-on experience in starting a business.

Dr. Gary Russi

In order to support the development of ideas needed to create unique businesses, the incubator is also home to the Clean Energy Research Center.

“One of the hallmarks of learning in the School of Business at Oakland is experiential learning … the ability to learn not just the concepts in the classroom … we have programs that help the students actually apply what they learn in the classroom in a real world setting,” says Dr. Balaji Rajagopalan, associate dean of the School of Business Administration.

Regardless of the success or failure of a venture, the process of forming a business is what Rajagopalan finds to be the most valuable for students.  It is a way for them to see how ideas can be transformed into businesses. That leads to greater innovation regardless of who students call their employer.

“Even if a venture is not successful, it is not a failed venture.  It is a very successful venture because they have learned so much about how to ideate, how to go through the process of venture formation,” he says.

Executive Director of OU INCubator Amy Butler

In a state struggling to improve economically, an incubator like I2B is critical for the nascent economic recovery.

“It’s very important that as we move Michigan’s economy forward. Institutions such as Oakland University realize their place in the broader picture of the community and helping to revive Michigan’s economy,” says Arnold Weinfeld, director of strategic initiatives and federal affairs for the Michigan Municipal League. “We think the I2B program here is a perfect example of that.”

The open house introducing I2B at Oakland’s Shotwell-Gustafson Pavilion came on the heels of Bloomberg announcing Michigan is number two in overall economic health in the country.  That prompted Cynthia Grubbs, business development manager for the MEDC, to conclude, “It’s a great time to be a Michigander, a great time to start a business and a wonderful time to open a facility such as this.”

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