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Lawrence Tech, Southfield to invest in incubator for small manufacturers

Lawrence Technological University and the city of Southfield are banding together to renovate a 6,300-square-foot center to house a business incubator and accelerator to support small manufacturers and hardware startup companies with product development and prototyping.

“We carved out a niche in support of that, as there weren’t other accelerators or incubators in the area that were supporting manufacturing and product innovation,” Mark Brucki, executive director of corporate and community partnerships at Lawrence Tech, told Crain’s.

The center, to be called the Centrepolis Accelerator, will be housed in a portion of the Enterprise Center, an office building formerly known as the Mark Plaza, next to the campus that was purchased by the university in 2015 for around $3.7 million, according to Brucki. The city of Southfield is contributing $1 million to the build-out of the center, through funds from Southfield’s Centrepolis SmartZone program.

That program is one of many in the Michigan Smartzone network, which aims to unite universities, industries, research organizations, government and other community institutions to drive growth of tech-related businesses and jobs.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. is pouring $250,000 into the renovation as well, Brucki said.  The New Economy Initiative is providing operational support to the tune of $40,000, and the MEDC will provide a $100,000 Gatekeeper grant for operational support, which the city will match, Brucki said.

The center is to include dedicated client office space, coworking space, conference rooms and event space, Brucki said.

“The main focus of it will be a product development and innovation lab, where we will have digital design studio on augmented reality, (a) virtual reality lab for product realization and a prototyping area for 3-D printing of those products,” he said.  Dan Radomski, who came on board in August, will lead the program as director.  “We have a mentor and resident that is under contract to support him, as well as marketing and staff support, so very lean right now,” Brucki said.

He said the program is looking to serve about 15 to 20 small businesses per year on a “very hands-on and at a very integrated level,” and he expects to have more companies coming in to use the facility.

“We also expect to have our corporate partners join us to be able to look at the companies that are coming through the accelerator and looking at how they can partner with them, or on their technologies … as a member of the supply chain,” Brucki.  Brucki declined to disclose the name of the corporate partners.

 

Posted By: Crain’s Detroit Business on November 13, 2018.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

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