1. Wolverine Caucus: Leveraging University Innovation to Propel Michigan’s Startup Ecosystem

    Mark Rivett posted February 3, 2022

    Friday, February 18, 2022

    10:00am – 11:30am

    Watch recording here

    The Wolverine Caucus is a free virtual event open to the public

    Innovation Partnerships at the University of Michigan serves the U-M research community by supporting the commercialization of new research discoveries and technologies. Innovation Partnerships further partners with public universities across Michigan to bolster a statewide university technology commercialization ecosystem. This collaborative network is made possible by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Entrepreneurship and Innovation initiative through a series of programs that provides resources to streamline critical innovation and technology commercialization support.

    The resulting innovations directly support Michigan’s economic growth while improving the lives of our citizens. Nevertheless, the state of Michigan remains an extremely challenging entrepreneurial ecosystem due to a lack of investment risk capital. A December 2021 Crain’s opinion piece by Reilly Brennan, the Founder and General Partner at Trucks Ventures in California, focuses on this issue(Michigan must stop letting other states profit from its innovators).

    Why should Michigan’s decision makers care? The panel will discuss Michigan programs such as ADVANCE, MTRAC, and T3N and the role each plays in moving innovation. And while these funds have been critical addressing early startup investment challenges in Michigan, start-ups have typically shifted focus to more mature companies and a conservative investment thesis. This creates a retention disadvantage for a state like Michigan. Acquiring the resources to ensure these critical innovators continue to contribute to our state’s economy and innovation ecosystem is crucial. The panel will review why it’s not the right time to back down. Michigan’s economy cannot afford to lose our edge if we don’t invest in critical economic development programs.


    Dr. Kelly B SextonDr. Kelly B Sexton
    Associate Vice President, UM Research and Innovation Partnerships

    As associate vice president for research and innovation partnerships, Kelly works closely with the vice president for research as well as other leaders across the university to provide visionary and strategic leadership of U-M’s innovation, corporate research and technology commercialization activities, including overseeing Innovation Partnerships. In this role, she supports and encourages university-wide programs for intellectual property development, innovation, and engagement with business and venture communities in the region, across the nation, and around the globe.

    Michael PsarouthakisMichael Psarouthakis
    Director of Ventures, Managing Director, Accelerate Blue Fund

    Mike leads the Innovation Partnerships Ventures team supporting U-M faculty, staff and students on new company formation based on intellectual property discovered and developed at the University of Michigan’s 19 schools and three campuses. He also manages the Accelerate Blue Fund, a venture fund focused on U-M licensed startups. Mike has over 30 years of entrepreneurial, senior management and venture fund experience in both the public and private sectors.

    Denise GravesDenise Graves
    University Relations Director, Michigan Economic Development Corporation

    Denise is the University Relations Director for the Entrepreneurship & Innovation team at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). In this role, she interacts with Michigan’s public universities, key entrepreneurial stakeholders and investors, managing programs that support statewide collaboration and the commercialization of early stage technology. Before joining MEDC in October 2011, Denise held sales and business development positions in a number of small and second stage high-tech companies in Ann Arbor. Her experience includes new business development, channel partner relations, client relations, sales, strategic planning, public speaking and contract negotiation and management. Denise holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Ferris State University.

    DBraden RobisonBraden Robison
    Chief Operations Officer, Seraph Biosciences, INC

    Braden serves as Chief Operations Officer of Seraph Biosciences bringing over 19 years of experience in medical devices. He has launched more than one hundred products through the FDA regulated process. As Senior Director of Business Development and Strategy for Stryker Corp., he successfully led $235M worth of transactions and started 2 different divisions for the company. Prior to joining Seraph Biosciences, Braden served as a Mentor-in-Residence at the University of Michigan’s Tech Transfer program and principal of 1021 Partners aimed at helping early stage companies build and grow their businesses.

    Wolverine Caucus members are University of Michigan alumni including legislators, lobbyists, staff, and advisors working in and around the State of Michigan government. They meet with U-M experts on timely, relevant public policy subjects during the legislative session. Our mission is to provide diverse forums at which U-M friends can meet one another, enjoy fellowship, exchange views and learn from the world-class talents of U-M faculty and administrators.

    Please RSVP to the Zoom Webinar HERE

    The Wolverine Caucus is a partnership between the University of Michigan Office of Government Relations and the Alumni Association.

  2. Electric Vehicles – Can Michigan Lead The Way?

    Mark Rivett posted November 30, 2021

    Friday, January 21, 2022

    10:00am – 11:30pm

    View the recording here

    The future of mobility is dynamic – new advancements are happening every day. Increasing funding and emphasis on electric vehicles will have a direct impact on the State’s economy by expanding much needed educational infrastructure to engage, reskill/upskill and educate more students at all levels, while also supporting innovation in essential areas: advancing the state-of-the-art for range and charging; transforming the capabilities for future battery packs through research on new materials, manufacturing methodologies; etc. The University of Michigan has a robust track record of collaboration and partnership that lead to high value outcomes. A strategic investment is critical for positioning the State of Michigan as the leader in EV related research and workforce development, and ensuring the State’s competitiveness and leadership position in the future of mobility for the near- and long-term.

    The Challenge We Face

    Almost fifty years ago Michigan’s auto industry faced a serious challenge, as demand increased for smaller, imported vehicles. It hasn’t been easy and it has taken a long time, but with research and innovation, strategic partnerships, engineering and talent, today’s auto industry is strong. Michigan is now facing another inflection point, a key moment in time. Vehicle electrification represents another generational shift in the mobility industry. Michigan’s existing auto industry is vulnerable. The state is at a critical crossroads that will need to educate nearly 15 percent of the workforce, re-purpose our manufacturing sector while enhancing our research infrastructure.


    Jeff Sakamoto
    Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, and Macromolecular Science and Engineering

    As a materials scientist and engineer with an interest in synthesis, processing, and functionalization of ceramics and hydrogels, his research is highly interdisciplinary guided by the fields of energy storage/conversion and biomedicine.

    Greg Less
    Director of the University of Michigan Battery Lab

    Greg Less is the Senior Laboratory Manager at the UMEI Battery Fabrication and Characterization User Facility, responsible for the day-to-day operation of the laboratory. Less received a doctorate in Chemistry from the University of Michigan. Prior to joining UMEI, he was a research scientist with battery companies T/J Technologies and A123 Systems.

    Wolverine Caucus members are University of Michigan alumni including legislators, lobbyists, staff, and advisors working in and around the State of Michigan government. They meet with U-M experts on timely, relevant public policy subjects during the legislative session. Our mission is to provide diverse forums at which U-M friends can meet one another, enjoy fellowship, exchange views and learn from the world-class talents of U-M faculty and administrators.

  3. Art in The Legislature Winner: Lindsay Farb

    Mark Rivett posted September 21, 2021

    The Art in the Legislature Program displays and celebrates the work of excellent student artists from Michigan’s 15 public universities each year, and their respective works are displayed in the Anderson House Office Building, or the Binsfeld Senate Building, for one year.

    State Relations Officers, university art department representatives, student-artists, their families, and the public at large are invited to attend the reception, at which time the new pieces of art will be unveiled and the students will be recognized.

    Lindsay Farb

    Lindsay Farb

    Lindsay Farb

    “Our world is currently in grave danger due to the worsening effects of the climate crisis. If we, the human population, do not make a significant change right now, before we know it, we will all cease to exist. I cannot help but feel uneasy and panicked when confronted with such alarming information regarding the severity of the situation at hand. My piece, titled Panic, is a visual depiction of chaos and the feeling of panic that pumps through the veins of many due to our current and ongoing climate crisis. The composition consists of jagged and irregularly cut black paper where negative and positive space work in harmony creating an upward motion of energy cutting through the page to mimic piercing and fleeting thoughts. The texture of the individual and overlapping shapes add to the provoked feeling of frenzy, and the sharp, chaotic composition aids in this description of panic in response to our impending doom.”

  4. Page 2 of 12
    1 2 3 4 12