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Wednesday, October 05, 2011 - Start It Up: I2B helps OU entrepreneurs launch new ventures

A new program introduced this fall will help OU community's budding entrepreneurs -- students, faculty and staff at Oakland University and Cooley Law School (CLS) -- gain access to the support and expertise to move from the idea stage of a new business, product or service, into implementation.


To support OU entrepreneurs, the new Ideas to Business (I2B) lab brings together paid student experts from across campus -- from business, technology, engineering, law and more  ̶  and teams them up with business professionals who serve as advisors. Called the Team Resource Group (TRG), this group counsels and assists the entrepreneur in crafting a business plan and pilot study to see if the business is viable. 


Through the I2B, the OU entrepreneurs will have access to the resources to help them explore, define and launch a new business venture. In addition to the skills and expertise of the TRG, resources such as office equipment, meeting space, product testing support and access to a network of other business professionals will be available in the I2B Lab in Elliott Hall, OU INC and other locations based on the business need. 


This multidisciplinary approach is supported through key partnerships across campus including the schools of Business Administration (SBA) and Engineering and Computer Science (SECS), and the OU INC.


To introduce the I2B to the community, OU is hosting an open house Thursday, Nov. 3, at 3 p.m., at OU INC in the Shotwell Gustafson Pavilion on OU’s campus.


A boost to business, education


By providing this critical assistance during the start-up phase, I2B will help OU entrepreneurs increase their chance of success in the business world, says Wayne Blizman, I2B coordinator. 


A National Business Incubation be an Association study reports that 87 percent of incubator startups are still in business after 10 years, compared to a survival rate of only 44 percent of non-participants after four years in business.


“This program allows the person to take his or her idea from the dream stage to reality,” Blizman says. “It will increase the odds a new business will become a sustainable, contributing member of a strong economic community.”

Conducting real business in the real world, I2B members will discover what works and what doesn't when starting a business. Depending on the new venture, the law student, for example, may research, then brief the team on patents, while the engineering student may investigate, test and suggest the most economical design of a product. 


The partnership with OU INC, OU's SmartZone business incubator, is a strong asset to the I2B and its participants. It's here where I2B entrepreneurs and their team members can tap the expertise of OU INC professionals to learn about start-up costs, investment strategies and more.


“We, as a university, have a real opportunity to help our own develop something significant while giving our students real-life opportunities in the business world,” Blizman says of the I2B.




By Rene Wisely