Monday, May 14, 2012
Oakland entrepreneurs turn ideas into reality with I2B lab
Oakland University and Cooley Law School students, faculty and staff who think they have the next million dollar business idea can get help turning it into reality with the Ideas 2 Business Lab (I2B).
Funding jointly by OU’s School of Business Administration and the School of Engineering and Computer Science, I2B is an innovative program that seeks to encourage fledgling entrepreneurs and provides the support and guidance required to turn ideas into successful businesses.
“I2B is a real dynamite program, the kind of program that Michigan likes to see,” said Wayne Blizman, I2B coordinator. “We are helping the state’s economy and promoting small business in our community. My vision down the road is to see members of the Oakland and Cooley communities launch useful and successful businesses.”
The I2B initiative targets entrepreneurs during the critical start-up period by providing resources such as office equipment, meeting space, product testing support and access to a broad network of business professionals.
Additionally, I2B utilizes university resources by employing current Oakland students who bring a diverse skill set from different fields and academic departments such as business, technology, engineering and law. The student staff assists in every step from web development to marketing to patent research.
“We focus on helping teams get the proper resources, but also offer real life experience for our active students,” Blizman said. “It is one thing to know how to do something, and quite another to actually do it. Our students are gaining real life learning experiences and building their resumes, while helping to assist in the creation of new businesses.”
This type of assistance can mean the difference between success and failure, Blizman noted. A recent National Business Incubation 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.
Potential entrepreneurs must submit an application and present their idea, its potential for success, resources needed and timing for the project before a selection committee. Individuals or teams admitted into the program are then appointed a successful business professional or faculty member to serve as an advisor to guide and support their progress.
Launched in fall 2011, the program officially started to receive applications in the first quarter of this year and currently has five active teams, working in cutting edge sectors such as clean and alternative energy and interactive website design. Blizman is pleased with the program’s success thus far, and hopes to reach a total of 8-10 teams by the end of the year.
All Oakland and Cooley students, faculty and staff are eligible to participate in the program.
For more information about Oakland’s i2B program, view the website at oakland.edu/i2b