Just a few years ago, when we talked about how best to re-charge and re-energize entrepreneurship, much of the talk was about business incubators, places where startups could develop at their own pace.
While business incubation continues, our focus in this report is on those projects that have left the hive and now fly on their own. In particular, we looked for businesses that found a physical place where they were more visible to the public. We learned that in becoming more visible they had greater catalytic impact on community or city life -- and on local economies.
We went to a uniquely named Detroit firm called Are You a Human, which launched while the co-founders were getting their MBAs at the University of Michigan and incubating at the school's TechArb facility. The time spent there gave them the confidence and motivation to strike out on their own. Today, the company is one of many creative ventures in downtown Detroit's M@dison Building, which is getting national attention for creating the groundwork for what some are calling "Webward" or "Silicon Valley 2.0."
In Southwest Michigan, Tolera Therapeutics moved out of a bioscience incubator, the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, into a vintage 1890s building in downtown Kalamazoo. The building was originally a hotel, and is now home to a number of the region's leading life science and medical device companies.
In Lansing, the designers and developers behind Gravity Works started by working from their homes while holding down day jobs, then incubated their ideas and practice at East Lansing's Technology Innovation Center. They became the center's first "virtual tenant," though they were still entitled to the conference rooms, trainings and other amenities of the incubator.
Gravity Works opened its independent physical location in Lansing's historic Old Town in May 2010.
These three stories are examples of how entrepreneurial innovation is helping change the fabric of Michigan cities and regions.
Our partner on this project is the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, or MSHDA
Business evolution: From incubation to visibility