Rural Technology Economic Development

Lake Superior State University Product Development Center

Lake Superior State University

Eric Becks, Director, Intellectual Property and Economic Development, Lake Superior State University; Dennis West, President, Northern Initiatives

The LSSU Product Development Center has logged nearly 11,000 student hours working with faculty on more than 150 engineering projects for entrepreneurs and businesses in collaboration with SmartZoneSM partners and economic development agencies.

  • Assembly automation enabled a UP manufacturer to pursue larger orders and add employees.
  • 3D CAD design, strength, acoustic and flame testing along with chemical testing by the LSSU Environmental Analysis Lab has assisted Innovative Composites Inc. to introduce products made of advanced materials.
  • Engineering design and assistance in selecting mold makers and plastic fabricators in Michigan has allowed Skate Fenders (Gaylord) to evolve from an idea to production.

Contact: Eric Becks,

NMU WiMax Technology Rural Community Benefits

Northern Michigan University

Dave Maki, Chief Technology Officer, Northern Michigan University; Dennis West, President, Northern Initiatives

The NMU WiMAX network enhances learning opportunities for the 7,000 off-campus students, as well as the faculty's ability to have students do research and other scholarly activities in areas throughout Marquette County. It diminishes challenges for students who live and learn in a rural community, especially for those place-bound due to disabilities or family obligations. All of this is what makes NMU's WiMAX network extremely exciting from an educational standpoint. However, what makes it unique beyond compare is the partnership created between the university and the neighboring cities and townships. In exchange for access to municipal structures suitable for the location of WiMAX transmission equipment, city governments are allowed use of the WiMAX network to support fire, police, utility, and community services.

Contact: Gavin Leach, Vice President for Finance and Administration,

Technology Business Development

Michigan Technological University

Jim Baker, Executive Director, Innovation and Industry Engagement, Michigan Technological University; Dennis West, President, Northern Initiatives

This poster summarizes activities and key partnerships that directly support the establishment, growth, and sustainability of technology companies in the western Upper Peninsula and throughout the state of Michigan. These activities include technology commercialization assistance, startup business development, and business counseling. Support to companies is provided directly by University personnel and through strategic local and regional partners including the MTEC Smartzone, Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center, Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and others.

Contact: Jim Baker,, (906) 487-3459