Spartan Innovations, L3C is the newest component of the Michigan State University Innovation Center. Offering helpful resources to create sustainable start-up ventures, the company identifies MSU technologies that would be best served by forming a start-up company rather than the traditional licensing path. "The process of commercializing technology might be quite slow through the licensing path. Our goal is to expedite commercialization," said Director Ruben Derderian. "We identify technologies that we think have a lot of potential."
The Spartan Innovations team consists of Derderian and four CEO mentors-in-residence – all of whom are successful entrepreneurs who have started companies, raised venture funds, and have exited their ventures with significant return on investment. The CEOs work with faculty whose technologies have been selected to be commercialized through start-up companies. "We assign one of the CEO mentors-in-residence to work directly with the founder of the company or the inventor of the technology," Derderian said. "The CEOs will look at the technology from a commercialization point of view and create a business plan and commercialization strategy for the product. If one of our CEOs is not interested in moving forward as the CEO of the start-up company, then we recruit a CEO to manage the company affairs, recruit funds and begin the commercialization process."
In addition to the CEO mentors-in-residence program, Spartan Innovations provides university-wide entrepreneurial education, student stipends to support hands-on business development, networking resources, and gap funding to support early stage and prototype development.
Derderian said entrepreneurs shouldn't feel discouraged if their venture is slow to start. "You have to find a way to overcome it and stick with it, or you won't be successful in your start-up."
The MSU Innovation Center is comprised of Spartan Innovations, MSU Technologies and Business-CONNECT, all of which partner together to support technology development. It is owned and funded by the MSU Foundation.