The Research Office

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

A man speaking into a microphone at a podium, with a panel of people seated behind him.

Ideas to Business (I2B)

The Program - Oakland University’s I2B programs offer assistance to regional business from the ideation phase through established companies. We have developed four I2B programs to both assist regional business and provide OU students with a hands-on entrepreneurial experience.

  • I2B – Startup:  Teams of OU students and mentors offer assistance to businesses in the early phases of their development.(8 weeks)
  • I2B – Consultants:  Multidisciplinary teams of OU students work with established businesses on specific projects (12+ weeks)
  • I2B – International:  Offers students an international experience in the US or overseas (12 weeks).
  • I2B – Ambassadors:  Ambassadors serve as spokesmen/women and advocates of the program (24 Weeks).

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, product redesign, etc.  The I2B utilizes student teams consisting of a two mentors (business and company) plus both OU undergraduate and graduate students with a variety of backgrounds. The program is open to all Oakland students.

The Business 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. Each participating company provides a mentor for their team; this individual has the needed domain expertise.

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 entrepreneurial 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. 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.

Company Benefits - The I2B program furnishes companies with targeted assistance focused on specific gaps in their development path., or specific company-designed projects.  While the type of information gained or work product varies, the end-goal is that the company has solve a question or problem related to its commercialization plans.

The program is jointly supported by Oakland’s School of Business Administration and the Research Office.

Contact I2B:
David Stone, PhD
Vice President for Research
[email protected]

Program descriptions:

I2B Startup

This program focuses on assisting startups and early-phase companies. Student/mentor teams assist companies by addressing the next critical step in their commercialization pathway. Most often, this is an in-depth analysis of the products market. The team identifies the total and regional market potential, market segmentation, market verticals and performs a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities, threats) analysis. The session lasts 8 weeks and ends with a mini-symposium wherein all teams present their work. Company deliverables are the presentation, all data collected, organized by subject, and a 4 -5 page Executive Summary of the team’s findings and recommendations.

I2B Consultants

I2B-Consultants (I2B-C) are multidisciplinary teams of students that work with established businesses on specific projects. The I2B-C projects are more complex in nature and for a longer period of time (12+ weeks). Students must have participated in the I2B-startup program at least once and are often from the OU Honors Program. The projects are specifically designed by the company and typically address issues important to the company’s competitive stance. Deliverables are the same as the I2B program.

I2B International

The I2B – International (I2B-I) program consists of two components; (1) an opportunity for visiting international students to gain entrepreneurial experience and (2) An opportunity for OU students to work with early-phase companies overseas.

The American Semester Abroad Program (ASAP)
This program is for international graduate and undergraduate students to spend a semester at OU. While taking academic classes at Oakland University, international students also can gain valuable experience working as a team member helping a start-up company get established by participating in the on-campus I2B program. The first student, a PhD candidate from Spain, participated in the Fall 2019 semester I2B session.

OU Student Entrepreneurship Abroad
This is an experiential learning process that exposes students to entrepreneurship and business practices in other cultures. The I2B-I program is designed to be flexible enough to provide students with individualized experiences. OU students may travel as individuals, or teams of students. It is anticipated that the student will have completed at least 5 semesters at Oakland and will travel in their 6th or 7th semester.

Course Credit
It is important that the students receive academic credit hours for the I2B-I program. The program is not conceived as a co-op or internship position, but rather an opportunity to learn entrepreneurship on an international level. To maintain their degree-progression, the students need to acquire 12+ credit hours during the I2B-I experience. The course work will consist of:

  • A relevant 4 credit hr. course taken at the overseas institution
  • A 4 credit hr. online course from Oakland University (or two overseas).
  • Experiential learning (4 credit hrs.) working at the company (20 to 32 hours per week).  

OU Entrepreneurship Abroad is planned to start in Winter Semester 2021.

I2B Ambassadors

I2B Ambassadors gain business and entrepreneurial experience beyond that of an I2B team member.  Ambassadors represent the I2B program across the OU campus and its incubators. They interact with faculty, fellow students and regional companies. They become effectively skilled in core startup activities, business evaluation, communications, marketing, etc.

The role of the Ambassadors is to disseminate information regarding the I2B program, identify interested individuals, and assist in program operations. Ambassadors will work independently to meet with student groups and organizations.

Ambassadors are selected on a competitive basis. Successful candidates need not be business majors, or entrepreneurship students. Rather, they must have a keen interest in entrepreneurship and be able to express it. Candidates must have successfully completed at least one session as an I2B team member. The position is open to Juniors, Seniors, and graduate students.