With three locations already established throughout the area, the Central Michigan University Research Corporation (CMURC) is looking to complete its presence in the Great Lakes Bay Region by coming to Midland next year.
"We have our location in Mount Pleasant, one in riverfront Saginaw and one in uptown Bay City -- Midland was kind of the hole that was in the area," said Erin Strang, CMURC president and CEO.
CMURC is one of 21 "SmartZone" locations throughout Michigan. Since being established by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. in 1999, CMURC has worked with both Central Michigan University and the Mount Pleasant community to establish itself as a SmartZone, or a place where experts within higher education and local businesses can collaborate on ways to encourage economic growth and communal welfare.
"As one of Michigan's SmartZones, we're here to promote collaboration between the universities, industries, governments and communities to grow high-tech jobs," Strang said.
Tentatively scheduled to open in March 2020, CMURC will be "co-locating" at 801 Joe Mann Blvd. with the GENE-5 investment group. With GENE-5 co-founder David Dittenber graduating from the CMURC's "accelerator program" while in Bay City, it was his urging that led to CMURC looking toward Midland as its next location.
"By being in the same building, we are going to be able to offer all of our clients the co-working space opportunity," Strang said.
The accelerator program is a three-phased, milestone-based program designed to provide the framework for entrepreneurs to go from idea to commercialization, Strang said. The program is designed to assist entrepreneurs in building business structures around innovative technology, identifying the right market, establishing the supply chain and ultimately securing the necessary partnerships and financing.
In the past six years, 187 entrepreneurs have entered phase one, with 91 progressing to phase two and 45 companies advancing to phase three resulting in the creation of 39 commercialized products.
"We have an excellent relationship with Erin (Strang) -- she's doing a wonderful job in the Bay area," said Fred Molnar, MEDC entrepreneur and innovation vice president. "Originally (the CMURC) was focused in Mount Pleasant, but she's done an amazing job of spreading the knowledge and help to other communities."