The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition gives Michigan entrepreneurs an opportunity to showcase their innovations to investors while connecting with other entrepreneurs and experts in their field. The winners of the competition are awarded capital funding and acceleration resources to help bring their business idea to market.
The LTU Collaboratory helps small manufacturers and hardware entrepreneurs scale-up for success as part of the Southfield Centrepolis SmartZone to foster local economic development. To prepare local businesses for the upcoming competition, they hosted a workshop on August 7.
The workshop was designed to review requirements and answer questions about the competition, as well as provide insight on the hardware startup community and what it takes to achieve success. Two LTU Collaboratory experts led the workshop—exposing attendees to resources, trends, and success stories. Mark Brucki is equipped with experience in entrepreneurial and academic research while Dan Radomski brings a strong background in entrepreneurship, commercialization of hardware technologies, and manufacturing.
Achieving Innovation in Hardware
The turnout of the workshop reflected the state of the hardware startup market. This next generation of innovators is a diverse group of people from different demographics, backgrounds, and stages of life, and some LTU students are even bringing ideas forward! Entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses are thinking of consumer products that make life more convenient by adding intelligence to hardware through sensors, wireless connections, remote functionality, etc.
However, commercializing these ideas comes with complex challenges that require support from people with experience who can help navigate business plans and product designs. That’s where the LTU Collaboratory comes in.
“It helps to have a product that has intellectual property and patents to protect against knock-off products and competition,” says Radomski. He continues that “the most important thing is trying to create as lean of a design as early on as possible. What happens too often is the first generation [design] isn’t optimized for cost reduction, durability, reliability, environment, shipping, transportation, customer use, and serviceability.”
Creating a physical prototype product often sets entrepreneurs in a loop of enhancing design, which can drain these companies of funds and cause investors and early customers to lose interest. “The critical design and engineering work is one of the biggest hurdles,” Radomski states.
Accelerate Michigan Hardware Prize
The Southfield Centrepolis/LTU Collaboratory, Automation Alley, and other Michigan SmartZones are partnering to support the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition in an effort to improve Michigan’s economy, create local jobs, and position our state as a destination for innovation.
The $10,000 cash grant for best Hardware Innovation Company at the competition also includes:
- LTU Collaboratory Accelerator Program (valued at $10,000)
- Competitive Industry 4.0 Transformation Company Growth Assessment by Automation Alley
- Lean Design Product Assessment by Munro & Associates
- Supply Chain Partner introductions by PlanetM