Michigan Tech Enterprise SmartZone
Houghton and Hancock win SmartZone designation
The Cities of Houghton and Hancock were designated in July, 2001 as one of only 10 SmartZones in the State of Michigan, and the only SmartZone in the northern portion of the state. SmartZones were created to offer a collaborative approach to stimulate the growth of high-tech businesses and jobs by aiding in the creation of recognized technology clusters of excellence. They have been designated to provide unique environments for the creation and growth of technology-based businesses, those primarily focused on commercializing ideas, patents, and other opportunities surrounding university or private research institute research and development efforts.
Why did Michigan create SmartZones?
Generally speaking, SmartZones are intended to:
- Create nurturing environments to support creation and operation of business incubators, R & D labs, and teleconferencing and training centers, as well as infrastructure such as high-speed telecommunications;
- By locating near universities, assure a fostering environment including a ready supply of smart workers, property and university personnel available for consultation;
- Foster collaboration among entrepreneurs, business leaders, the university and units of government; and
- Increase awareness of Michigan's advantages in technology and its companies.
How does the Michigan Tech Enterprise SmartZone work?
The Michigan Tech Enterprise SmartZone is a collaborative effort between Michigan Technological University, the Cities of Houghton and Hancock and the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance (KEDA). It is designed to commercialize and grow technologies in the areas of advanced manufacturing, biotechnologies, materials and environmental science and engineering.Specifically, the Michigan Tech Enterprise SmartZone intends to:
- Commercialize technologies developed at Michigan Tech and by entrepreneurs wishing to relocate to the Upper Peninsula;
- Assist the already more than 40 local tech companies located in the Keweenaw Peninsula to achieve rapid growth;
- Attract branch offices of established companies to the area
- Retain engineering and other graduates of Michigan Tech in the local area by creating high tech employment opportunities.
Upon designation, the Michigan Tech Enterprise SmartZone established two corporations in order to implement the SmartZone program: the Local Development Finance Authority (LDFA) to capture non-homestead property taxes as allowed by the SmartZone legislation and to oversee the program, and the Michigan Tech Enterprise Corporation (MTEC) to implement SmartZone activities. Both organizations are private, non-profit, charitable organizations.
The LDFA Board of Directors includes three members each designated by the two Cities and a Chairman.
The MTEC Board includes two representatives from Michigan Tech, one each from the two Cities and one representative from KEDA, the latter currently serving as Board Chairperson. Four outside-of-area directors with expertise in technology commercialization and financing will also be appointed.
Helping high technology businesses to launch and grow
The Michigan Tech Enterprise SmartZone owns and manage two technology incubators. The Powerhouse Incubator on the City of Houghton waterfront offers over 11,000 sq. ft. of office space. The Portage Incubator in the City of Hancock offers 15,000 sq. ft. of both office and lab space. Michigan Tech also offers a high tech incubator - the Advanced Technology Development Complex - located on the Michigan Tech campus. It offers laboratory and R & D space. All 3 incubators have conference and presentation rooms, training facilities and high speed telecommunications.
In addition to incubator space, the Michigan Tech Enterprise SmartZone will offer the following services:
- Technology assessments
- Business feasibility studies and market analysis
- Assistance with writing business plans
- Entrepreneurial training
- Venture capital preparation and introductions
- Introductions to technology commercialization partners
- Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Program (SSTR) assistance
- Grant writing assistance
- Product development
- Assistance in recruiting technical and managerial personnel
- Business development mentoring
The MTEC CEO, Marilyn Clark, is experienced in working with both large and small technology companies, She has also consulted with many small technology companies and is fully qualified in the areas of technology commercialization and financing. Marilyn can be reached at 906-487-7000 or at email@example.com.