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University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships
University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships

Celebrate Invention 2020


Celebrate Invention, September 21 – 24, 2020

Members of the University of Michigan community of innovators, leaders from promising U-M startups, and alumni gathered from around the world for the first-ever virtual Celebrate Invention to honor U-M inventors, discuss the growing impact of U-M innovations, and explore ways to further propel U-M’s innovation ecosystem and to mark the 20th anniversary of U-M’s largest annual event dedicated to inventorship, entrepreneurism, and impact.


1:00 – 1:45 PM – A Dialogue with U-M President Mark S. Schlissel on the Evolving Role of the Research University

  • The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of the modern research university in creating resilient research and innovation infrastructure to allow society to respond to new challenges. Join U-M President Mark S. Schlissel and Associate Vice President for Research Kelly Sexton as they discuss the evolving role of research universities in developing innovations that create positive societal impact and catalyze economic growth.

2:30 – 3:45 PM – 2020 Distinguished University Innovator Award presented to J.J. Prescott by Vice President for Research Rebecca Cunningham.

  • Join us for a panel discussion led by 2020 Distinguished University Innovator Award Recipient J.J. Prescott entitled, Technology, Access to Justice, and Democratizing American Courts with panelists: Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack; Jason Tashea, founder and director of Justice Codes, a nonprofit focused on the impact of technology in criminal justice systems; and Bernadette Atuahene, law professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology, and a research professor at the American Bar Foundation. It will be moderated by Luke Shaefer, the inaugural director of U-M’s Poverty Solutions program.

4:30 – 5:30 PM – Age of Innovation: Research Universities and Commercialization.

  • Panel discussion with David Thompson, Director of Development, Kelly Sexton, Associate Vice President for Research – Technology Transfer and Innovation Partnerships, Mike Psarouthakis, Director, Venture Center, Managing Director, Accelerate Blue Fund and MJ Cartwright, CEO, Court Innovations.


12:00 – 1:00 PM – Is the Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) program right for you? Learn more about funding opportunities from the State of Michigan’s five MTRAC directors: Eric Petersen, Sara Risch, Ed Kim, Nate Yenor, Joe Affholter, along with MEDC’s University Relations Director Denise Graves.

  • Since its inception in 2012 and the growth into a statewide program in 2016, the Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization program, funded and supported through the entrepreneurship & innovation initiative at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) has been focused on assisting research on the path to the commercial market. MTRAC supports Michigan’s institutions of higher learning, hospital systems and nonprofit research centers with matching funds and mentoring as their researchers work on milestones to achieve their commercialization goals. During this session, Michigan’s five MTRAC directors discuss their translational research funding programs – specific technology focus, oversight committee selection process, eligibility and how Michigan’s academic researchers and clinicians can participate.

2:00 – 4:00 PM – 2030: What the Future Holds presented by Ann Arbor SPARK & U-M Innovation Partnerships.

  • Join us for a tech forecast as global thought leaders: John Denniston, Shared-X; Upali Nanda, HKS Inc and Taubman College of Architecture; Michael Psarouthakis, U-M Innovation Partnerships Venture Center; Venkat Ramaswamy, Ross School of Business; and Bryan Stiekes, Google discuss trends and revolutionary products in healthcare, IoT, AR/VR, mobility, and other driving industries with a foothold in the region. Hear from futurists as they explore tomorrow’s predictions and possibilities.


12:00 – 1:00 PM – U-M Technologies and Startups: Playing an Active Role in the Fight Against COVID-19.

  • Join U-M inventors for a discussion on how early stage UM startups successfully leveraged their technologies to address the critical needs of COVID-19. Among other things, panelists will discuss the impact they hope to have, how they were able to quickly adapt during a time of such uncertainty, and what this divergence could mean for their long-term plans. Presenters include Yashar Niknafs, CEO, LynxDx, Sherman Fan, Optofluidic Bioassay, and Lola Eniola-Adefeso, Asalyxa.

2:00 – 2:30 PM – U-M Startup BlueConduit Celebrates Their Official Launch by Ringing the U-M Startup Bell.

  • Join us to celebrate the official launch of BlueConduit – a U-M startup company that leverages machine learning to ensure that residents of every community regardless of means have access to clean water. Growing out of research at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business conducted by Professor Eric Schwartz, BlueConduit has used predictive models to help cities identify which homes have lead service lines, providing a home-by-home inventory to guide their removal in a cost-effective way. Please join us to celebrate their launch and to learn more about their vision for their future.


9:00 – 10:00 AM – Everything You Need to Know About Open Source Software presented by Drew Bennett, U-M Innovation Partnerships.

  • Increasingly, U-M researchers are choosing to open source their discoveries to deliver them to a wider audience. In this educational session, U-M Innovation Partnerships’s Drew Bennett walks university researchers through the “ins and outs” of successfully launching and managing open source projects. Learn how to manage your open source project and meet your goals by finding the right license for your project, understanding how to manage contributors, and leveraging university resources. Participants will discuss different open source models for collaboration, explore real world examples, and consider contemporary issues, like SSPL and the Commons Clause.U-M Innovation Partnerships helps co-manage and promote over 100 open source projects across campus. Through direct promotion, education, source code auditing, and licensing consultation, it’s our goal to ensure that every U-M open source project is positioned for success. Let us help you bring your offering to market in an open way, while promoting you, your work, and your lab.

10:30 – 11:30 AM – Inspiring to Impact: Getting Your Best Ideas into the World.

  • Learn how Innovation Partnerships can help you translate your best research into real-world impact and hear lessons learned from researchers new to the commercialization process, with Daphne Watkins, Professor Social Work, Chinedum Okwudire, Associate Professor Mechanical Engineering, and Olivia Walch, CEO and Founder of Arcascope.

12:00 – 2:00 PM – The Basics of Creating an Early Stage Academic Startup presented by Manny Stockman and Anurag Agarwal, Osage University Partners.

  • A primer on startups that is targeted to researchers and new entrepreneurs, this seminar will help you understand the current startup company process from idea to fundable entity. Topics covered include: Essential elements of a startup, Company formation and organization, Funding, Pitch deck and executive summary, Due Diligence and Investment Memo

3:00 – 4:30 PM – Startup Fundraising 101 presented by Serena Glover, Angel Investor and Entrepreneur.

  • Would you like to learn how to raise fund from early stage investors? This session will cover: 1. When to raise, how much to raise, deal legal terms and overview of process; 2. Investors: targeting, preparation, and mindset; 3. How to build a pitch deck and story that is attractive to early stage investors; 4. Biggest mistakes, general advice and how to follow up with investors.

6:00 – 7:30 PM – Angel Investing: How to Get Started presented by Serena Glover, Angel Investor and Entrepreneur.

  • Hear an experienced angel investor speak about getting started investing in technology startups. The session will cover: How to think about the different stages of start-ups and build a portfolio; How many deals you need to be in, liquidity of your investments, timing, and deal flow; Due diligence: the basics of evaluating start-ups; and How deals are structured and legal basics.
    Whether you are ready to start now or planning for the future this interactive session is designed to provide a framework for thinking about angel investing, how to make your first deal, and how to engage as an ongoing investor. The discussion will be targeted at those wanting to actively invest, but is useful for passive investors in seed funds who wish to understand more about this asset class.