October 30, 2015: Working with Start-Ups

CALC|UM hosted Dr. Margaret McCammon, an entrepreneur and investment portfolio manager in the chemical sciences to share her career experiences as well as educate students and faculty on the resources available for start ups in Michigan.

Margaret earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Oxford before moving to Cambridge as a medical scientist and eventually completing her M.B.A. In addition to her training and accomplishments in science, Margaret has started her own business, worked in technology commercialization at UM, managed millions of dollars in startup funding for high tech companies in Michigan, and published several high impact publications on the commercialization of university research.

The video of the talk

The event focused on three major concepts that students found to be particularly important:
1. What is it like to be an entrepreneur and how do you get there
2. Michigan as a place to start a business: there are TONS of entrepreneurial resources available
3. How to bridge the gap between Michigan Ph.D.s and startup businesses:  a possible internship program

During the first part of the event, Dr. McCammon talked about her experiences as an entrepreneur as well as the things that set her up for success in other aspects of her career.

She was very passionate about the importance that internships played in her development as a scientist, but more importantly in developing her network of references for future work. Margaret ran a successful food business in order to pay her way through college, and learned three lessons from the experience:

1. The idea that entrepreneurs “work their own hours” is a myth: they work ALL hours
2. Entrepreneurship is one of the few ways to achieve financial freedom in most industries(especially science)
3. Successful entrepreneurs rely on others for business and financial support i.e. development agencies and investors.

Next, the discussion turned to the entrepreneurial support systems in place in Michigan, namely through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The first stop for any Michigan entrepreneur should be the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), staffed by an array of experts willing to meet in office or over coffee to discuss potential businesses and funding sources. These consulting services are available to anyone in the community, and it is highly encouraged that future entrepreneurs utilize them! Additionally, we discussed resources targeted for the commercialization of university research from the University Commercialization Fund . Other resources for more advanced businesses looking for capital or incubator space were also discussed, all of the information can be found in the attached powerpoint presentation from the event.

Finally, audience members moved to 1706 for an open discussion about an internship program between UM Chemistry and startup businesses in the area. Students and faculty were commented on the future structure of the internship program and raised important questions about time commitments and educational outcomes. This meeting provided useful insights into what students, faculty, and businesses need in order to build successful relationships, and moved us toward a novel industrial internship partnership.