The Research Office

Wilson Hall
371 Wilson Boulevard
Rochester, Michigan 48309-4486
(location map)
(248) 370-2762
(248) 370-4111

Tapping Oakland's Knowledge

Mobilization Zone
The Mobilization Zone (MZ) builds and supports platforms that integrate Oakland’s faculty, students, its business engagement efforts, its technology-focused business incubators, and its regional (Southeast Michigan) governments into a single, collaborative entity.

The economic development arm of the MZ contains integrated components (below) that together provide an innovative solution to increasing jobs and prosperity in the region. Specifically, MZ programs address educating the future workforce, creating an entrepreneurial culture, advancing innovation and company formation, and promoting the region’s resources, workforce, and businesses.

The Mobilization Zone includes:

  • Ideas to Business (I2B) – The I2B program provides startups with mentor-led student teams to address critical next steps toward commercialization.
  • Small Company Funding Programs – Sponsored by the Michigan Corporate Relations Network. Funding for internships or university-based research.
  • Oakland Business Engagement Center (OBEC) – A front door for all corporate access to Oakland’s faculty, students, and facilities.
  • Corporate R&D Accelerator – An opportunity for established companies to develop new inventions and/or IP outside of their typical environment.

Contact the MZ:
Michael Long, PhD
Executive Director
(248) 370-2552

Ideas to Business (I2B)

The Program. Oakland University’s I2B programs offers assistance to regional business in the early phases of their development. Whether beginning to conceptualize a company or actually launching one, small businesses need resources they don’t often have or cannot afford. The State and County have multiple resources for early and growth-phase companies, but a gap exists in that startups are too premature to access these programs. I2B fills this gap by providing help, expertise and guidance during the crucial first phase of business development.

How it works. The I2B program assists companies in rapidly (within a matter of weeks) identifying and evaluating the critical next step(s) in their progress toward commercialization. Such steps include undertaking projects such as: a serious market analysis, developing a solid business plan, producing a workable prototype, or rendering basic code. The I2B utilizes student teams consisting of a mentor and both undergraduate and graduate students with a variety of backgrounds to provide the key next step(s) for the company. The program is open to all Oakland students. The student teams consist of both undergraduate and graduate students with a variety of backgrounds.

The mentors assist I2B by overseeing progress, providing advice and needed expertise. These volunteers are OU faculty, staff, and alumni, as well as local executives and entrepreneurs. Mentors also become involved in other I2B activities, such as judging pitch presentations, networking opportunities, etc.

Student Benefits. The most tangible outcome for the students is developing an entrepreneurial mindset: the ability to think creatively about problems in which resources are often limited. This directly translates into intrapreneurial skills. Most students do not establish their own companies, but the experiences gained the real-world context of the I2B program will benefit them in any work environment. Students accepted into the I2B program will receive a small scholarship ($200 - $300; undergrad. grad., respectively) and a certificate upon successful completion of the 6 week program. Beyond work-skills, I2B students will meet people from a diversity of backgrounds and with varying levels of expertise. Such networking opportunities will help their future careers and employment prospects.

I2B Program Process. Many companies would benefit from the gap-analysis and solutions offered by the I2B program. Companies working with the I2B will be evaluated for suitability to enter the program. Companies so pre-screened will be introduced to the I2B program officers (Research Office and School of Business Administration). Over a 6 week period of time, the students will research and develop the critical need of the company. The work product will consist of their project analysis and a “next-step” development plan. These will be supplied as both hard copies and as a presentation to the company.

Contact I2B:
Michael Long, PhD
Executive Director, Mobilization Zone
(248) 370-2552

Jae Kang, PhD
Assistant Professor, SBA
(248) 370-4093

Small Business
Funding Programs

Funding Opportunities for Small Companies
Oakland University is an affiliate of the Michigan Corporate Relations Network (MCRN), a statewide university network designed to create partnerships that will connect Michigan’s corporations to critical university assets. The MCRN runs two programs relevant to corporate development. These programs will be open for applications in January, 2018

The Small Company Innovation Program (SCIP) provides matching funds up to Michigan small businesses seeking to collaborate on technology development research projects with an OU laboratory or expert. SCIP matches up to $40,000 on a 1 to 1 basis with the company, but entrepreneur can pay more (e.g., $100,000 budget would be paid $60,000 by company and $40,000 by SCIP). Applications are accepted throughout the year, but funded first come, first served.

The Small Company Internship Award Program (SCIA) provides funding to help small businesses hire university students to work as interns on projects that are both beneficial to the company and academically relevant to the student. It is specifically targeted toward Michigan businesses in the STEM fields. The SCIA matches up to $3,500 on a 1 to 1 basis with the company. The company must support the intern’s full salary throughout the summer and is reimbursed in September. Applications are accepted until March 15, 2018 and awards given in April, 2018

Sponsored by:
Michigan Corporate Relations Network

Oakland Business
Engagement Center (OBEC)

To facilitate corporate interactions, and to foster the development of longer-term strategic partnerships, the MZ established the OBEC as a single entry point to accessing university faculty and facilities. Companies (large and small) needing University assistance will be directed to the appropriate resources such as:

  • Faculty expertise
  • Student internships
  • Continuing education and/or training
  • Research
  • Use of Facilities

Coordination of these activities through the OBEC will allow for the identification of opportunities for long-term win-win partnerships.

Contact OBEC:
Michael Long, PhD
Executive Director, Mobilization Zone
(248) 370-2552

Corporate R&D Accelerator

Creative individuals working within a typical corporate structure lack the facilities and time to develop new inventions and/or Intellectual Property (IP). They also often struggle against bureaucratic and other cultural barriers to innovation that exist within large and established firms. OU’s incubators offer a nurturing and nimble environment whereby research and development ideas can flourish. The R&D accelerator will offer two accelerator solutions for interested companies. First, companies can simply acquire incubator space to allow employees to conduct independent research and development of innovation ideas and solutions. Alternatively, a company can spin off a wholly-owned subsidiary that will be located in one of the incubators, which can then avail itself of the multiple State funding mechanisms provided through the incubator. In each case the newly generated IP remains with the sponsoring institution.


Macomb-OU Incubator