Blog: Jessica Pfeiffer

Jessica Pfeiffer is a native Detroiter, currently a resident of Corktown, and the Executive Director of The MORE Program (MI Resources & Opportunities for Entrepreneurs).She is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and serves on the board of Southwest Solutions. Jessica will be writing about creating internship opportunities to train and retain our region's college students.

Post No. 2

Making Connections : Company - University Connections

If you are a professional reading this blog, you probably don’t need me to tell you the value of networking. We all do it, we go to receptions, meetings, happy hours and shake hands, pass around cards and find out who and what we have in common, how we might work together. Those contacts get collected and updated and if you have good business skills, cultivated so that they will turn into new clients, new suppliers, new product ideas or even, like they did for me last year, a new job. 

For some of us this comes naturally, meeting new people and forging new business relationships. For others, some barriers exist and it takes some added structure to help make those connections happen. What works for people also works for organizations such as universities and companies, as well.  

Michigan’s public universities are home to an amazing array of resources that can be utilized by companies, but the methods for tapping in to those resources are not always apparent to the average small business owner or entrepreneur.  University partnerships have long been the domain of the global enterprises: the Fortune 500s with the hefty research and contributions budgets. With budgets tightening at larger companies, and the transformation of the nation’s economy to one that is innovation-based placing its expectations for growth at the doorstep of the entrepreneurs and small businesses, there are opportunities for these small businesses to step up where the large corporate have pulled back, but they need the introductions to the right people. If small, growing, innovation-based businesses are the hope for the future for Michigan’s economic transformation, then we need to facilitate those connections with our universities now.

The MORE Program is launching a new program to do just that. On March 19, we will host an “Entrepreneurial Opportunities Day” at the University of Michigan College of Engineering in Ann Arbor. We have invited 100’s of companies to join us and our co-hosts, the College of Engineering, MPowered Entrepreneurship (an organization for student entrepreneurs) and the new Center for Entrepreneurship at the College for a day of making connections.  

In one day, companies that attend the fair will be introduced to talent in the form of the talented and energetic students, knowledge in the form of industry roundtable discussions led by faculty experts and resources of the university that might be able to help move their business forward such as high-tech lab space, equipment, collaborative research, student projects, technology transfer and much more. 

The goal for the program is that this day will just be the starting point to new relationships which will grow and develop into lasting partnerships which will bear valuable fruit for the companies who attend- MORE growth, MORE innovation and MORE access to top student talent. 

As a state we invest in our public universities and this program will help the state’s taxpayers, our citizens AND our businesses, to  benefit from that investment. The University of Michigan is certainly hoping these sorts of relationships continue to develop long into the future. To evidence their commitment to opening up more to working with businesses of all sizes, they have founded a new Business Engagement Center
which, beyond this one day event, will serve as a single point of contact for business and entrepreneurs who want to capitalize on the depths of resources that the University brings to bear.

Which brings me back to the students. Those students, that talent they represent, they are the richest resources of them all, and we need to develop them, help them to make connections to our state’s businesses and ultimately, keep them in Michigan. 

In my next post, I’ll write about making student-company connections happen and turning those connections into internships, jobs and maybe even new businesses.