Menu Menu

View Newsletter

A Note From Our Director
OU INC Director Amy Butler
Amy Butler



Networking To Grow

One of the key aspects that many of our startups look for is how to become engaged in the industry sector that their product is prepared for or they have targeted for initial market entry or expansion into other markets.  A number of the articles in this newsletter provide examples of how some of our client companies have been able to make connections, along with seeking and developing talent

Some noteworthy, upcoming opportunities are participating in statewide events.  For example, for technology companies in the energy space, the Michigan Energy Innovation Council will be hosting an annual conference and meeting on April 30, 2014.  It will feature 16 Michigan Energy Industry Leaders, 2 MPSC Commissioners and Governor Snyder's Top Energy Advisor along with a broad range of industry leaders from Michigan's advanced energy sector, leading utility executives, and top government officials. You can register here- register today!

Another event is the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium, June 17 & 18, 2014 which teams up with the MIQuest Business Plan Competition. Both events converge at the Marriot Resort at the Eagle Crest in Ypsilanti, MI. Hope to see you at these great events. 



Featured Events
Automation Alley PLM Center Grand Opening at OU INC


On Thursday, February 20, Automation Alley's Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Center opened at OU INC. In collaboration with the Oakland University School of Engineering and Computer Science, along with corporate sponsors Geometric Solutions, Pure Michigan, Siemens, and Solid Thinking, the PLM Center is designed to help smaller businesses design, create and distribute their products quickly and easily through new technology, such as 3-D printing.

Since OU INC is designed as a space of learning and development for entrepreneurs, the collaboration between the incubator and Automation Alley made sense.  Alex Violassi, Director of the PLM Center, explains that contact with technologies such as 3-D printing and scanning will be useful to new companies.

"The idea is to help expose the new small businesses coming to the OU INC facility to the emerging technologies affecting the region's manufacturing efficiencies," says Violassi. "The PLM Center will display some of the technologies, and help these companies use it."

STEMx Collaboration Kickoff

On Thursday, April 3, OU INC hosted the kickoff meeting of the STEMx course – a collaboration between Oakland University and Birmingham Seaholm High School. High school juniors and seniors gathered at the incubator to meet their new mentors from the university and community in a program introducing them to research and data development in STEM – science, technology, engineering , and mathematics. Faculty, staff and businesses serve as mentors for "data experiences" for the students.

"The STEMx Research and Design course is a unique academic conduit between high school students and professionals in the STEM related fields," says STEMx coordinator for Birmingham Public Schools and Course Instructor Doug Baltz. "This experience embeds authentic data collections/analysis with a number of mentors from the surrounding community. Each mentor provides their own "invitation to connect" to real world applications."

Representatives from the School of Engineering and Computer Science (SECS) and the College of Arts and Sciences encouraged these students to make their ideas heard and conduct research as soon as possible. Associate Dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science Lorenzo Smith spoke of making good choices.

Business Speaker Series Kicks Off on April 17
A new speaker series on accessing tools to grow your business is kicking off at OU INC on Thursday, April 17. Mike Brennan, Business Commercialization and Capital Investment Advisor for OU INC, is presenting Financing to Grow - Understanding the Landscape. He will detail the various capital sources, and talk about how to properly position your company to be qualified for private funding, including private equity, the angel network and venture capital, and/or public financing, including grants, pre-seed, micro-loans, and venture match.

Mike will provide a group presentation, as well as individually help each present company to determine their needs. 

The event is from 10:30am to 12pm. To register for this free event, call OU INC at (248) 648-4800.
OU INC Client Invited to the White House

This month, Bernie Scibienski of OU INC client Sustainable Energy Technologies (SET) has been invited to the White House later this month. Recommended by the Flint Area Reinvestment Office (FARO), and Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce's Economic Development Team, Scibienski has been invited by the White House Business Council and Business Forward to discuss strengthening the economic competitiveness of American manufacturers.

In collaboration with OU INC, SET was awarded a business accelerator fund grant of $40,000 for validation testing of biological solutions of fats, oils and grease. They are also evaluating new channels to utilize their technologies. Aside from his position with SET, Bernie Scibienski is also the COO of the Panter Group and a Director at HRB & Associates. He was one of the private sector leaders for the 2010 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy and is now serving on the new seven county economic development plans. 

Winter Semester Senior Design Competition on April 17

As the winter semester comes to a close, seniors in the School of Engineering and Computer Science (SECS) are preparing to present their final projects. On Thursday, April 17, the Winter 2014 Senior Design Competition will take place in the Oakland Center. From 10am to noon in Banquet Room A, students will showcase their creations.

Each semester the task changes. For this end of semester challenge, students were asked to make a device that could sort Skittles candy. Along with sorting the candies by color, the device must also count the number of each group of candy. Penalties will be given for miscounted or improperly sorted candies.

Winning teams, consisting of students from each engineering discipline working in collaboration to create their projects, will receive monetary prizes.

Dr. Mike Latcha, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, says, "This is a highly difficult challenge and the students are eager to show off their designs."

The event is open to anyone interested in supporting SECS senior students.

OU INC Clients Connect with the EMBA Program

Five OU INC Clients had the opportunity to share their first hand experiences in growing a business with the cohort of Executive Masters of Business Administration students at Oakland University recently.  The course was about Entrepreneur Leadership.  Special Instructor, Frank Cardimen said, "I thought the best way to learn about incubators and startups was to invite Amy Butler, the Executive Director, over to speak about incubation first hand.  The class was so excited they asked to visit and Amy offered to invite the clients in to meet them."

"Whenever we can share our experiences as an opportunity to engage our students, it is an extraordinary experience for both the students and the companies.  Several follow ups have already occurred and relationships begin to form," said Amy Butler.

Advisor Spotlight: Mike Straney

With over 40 years of automotive and managerial experience, Mike Straney has many things to offer to the companies he volunteers with. Since it the incubator opened, he has been an asset to burgeoning client companies working with OU INC.

A self-described "mechanical engineer who never sat down and designed a thing," Straney's engineering experience and diverse managerial positions for General Motors and American Axle and Manufacturing, taught him to be a leader. Shortly after retiring in 2005, he decided to continue to put his skills to good use in a new setting.

"I became the first volunteer advisor at OU INC, and became the chairman of the Advisory Board for the first OU INC client company, GS Engineering, in April 2006," Straney recalls.

Over the past nine years, he has advised eight other companies from both OU INC and the Macomb-OU INCubator. Currently, Straney works with two OU INC clients. He serves as chair of the advisory board for iTrack, LLC and is an individual advisor to Zeta 5 Industrial Tooling Performance, LLC.

iTrack Technology Used in Theatrical Production

OU INC client iTrack was responsible in creating the movement of the sets for Sight and Sounds Theatres' production of Moses. The Lancaster County, Pennsylvania-based theatre's production of the Biblical story uses the autonomous vehicle technology created by iTrack to bring the production to life.

Having previously designed the technology for the theatre's production of Jonah, iTrack understood the trials of the creating movement for a large-scale theatrical production. The massive size of the stage and sets, as well as accounting for the safety of actors and onstage animals became challenges for the iTrack.

Since iTrack's autonomous vehicles run on navigation systems that register on a higher frequency than other technology, such as cell phones and performers' microphones, the team was not worried about that aspect. They are confident in their technology's efficiency.

OU INC Expands Rescource Access with Service Provider Center

To broaden access to service providers, OU INC is expanding its anchor tenant resources. OU INC has established a co-working space that will serve as a service provider center for entrepreneurs to meet service providers, mentors, and advisors.  Each day of the week will have a separate resource available.  OU INC clients will be able to meet with service providers and be able to then independently engage them for further services. 


OU INC currently has one anchor tenant, EDEN Inc, who assists clients to navigate the economic development landscape through a variety of project management services including: grant writing and management; economic and workforce development; and needs analysis.  


OU INC welcomes its second anchor tenant, and first participant in the co-working center: Spartan Printing, LLC. Spartan Printing will be in the center on Wednesdays.  Randy Root, Director of Business Development for Southeast Michigan for Spartan said "I'm excited about getting to know everyone at OU INC. I hope my years in the printing, promotional and marketing business will allow me to provide valuable assistance to everyone there."

Client Highlights

Funding Awarded
  • iTrack LLC   was awarded a Business Accelerator Fund award of  $6,500 to develop a strategy to increase iTrack's lead generation and sales strategy.

  • Functional Innovation Technologies was awarded a Business Accelerator Fund award of $16,500 to develop its commercialization plan and identify appropriate paths to market for its principal healthcare product, the Barnett Rehabilitation System. 

  • Munetrix was awarded a Business Accelerator Fund award of $ 14,800 to develop a strategy and build relationships to marked its core platform technology, an internet based SaaS financial management and transparency alternative for local governments and school districts, to multiple states. 

Clients on the Move: Autobike

Between collaborating with other Michigan companies and competing in business competitions, OU INC client AutoBike has been busy.

AutoBike will be advancing to phase two of the University of Chicago's Edward R. Kaplan '71 New Venture Challenge. AutoBike will be one of 55 teams chosen to advance, and will participate in an entrepreneurial class, which will determine if they will participate in the final phase of the competition.

If the team advances to the final phase, which will take place in May, they will have the opportunity to pitch their business to a panel of renowned entrepreneurs and business experts. Teams that advance to the last round of the competition are eligible to receive cash, legal services and professional counseling as prizes.

Call For News: 
The OU INC Team welcomes any news or article ideas that you may have for us to post in our newsroom, as well as in our newsletter. We are looking for ideas ranging from information about upcoming events to profiles about inspiring professionals. Please send any ideas to, or call OU INC at (248) 648-4800.
Pure Michigan SmartZone, Rochester Hills Shotwell-Gustafson Pavilion
2200 North Squirrel Road, Rochester, MI 48309-4401
(248) 648-4800

Follow Us!


Around the Region

April 17, 2014

Financing to Grow - Understanding the Landscape

10:30am - 12pm
To register, call OU INC:
(248) 648-4800

April 30, 2014

Michigan Energy Innovation Council Conference

Kellog Center, East Lansing, MI
Register here:

June 17 & 18, 2014

Michigan Growth Capital Symposium
Ypsilanti, MI

Register here: