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University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships
University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships

MEDC Support for T3N Accelerates University Opportunities


The Technology Transfer Talent Network (T3N) was created in 2012 to enhance the commercialization of university opportunities with talent programs and resources, made possible thanks to funding support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the statewide economic development organization for Michigan, matched by each participating university. T3N was conceived by the University of Michigan to share best practices and provide mutual support among six other sister Michigan research universities: Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University, Oakland University, Wayne State University and Western Michigan University.

Some of the talent resources funded by T3N include:

Fellows Program – Graduate students who work part-time to assist tech transfer licensing specialists to assess the technical and market potential of new U-M inventions and, in return, receive valuable training and encouragement for their careers.

Mentors-in-Residence Program – Seasoned entrepreneurs who work within the tech transfer offices bringing entrepreneurial expertise and connections for opportunity assessment and venture creation programs.

University Post-Doc Fellowships – Post-doc students to work on technology or startup development, increasing the chances for a license or startup in Michigan and potential employment opportunity for the post-doc.

Catalyst Talent Resource – A network of talent collections within each region to apply to tech transfer projects as advisors, consultants and potential startup management.

The Mentors-in-Residence (MiR) program has been an integral program for T3N. MiRs work inside tech transfer offices, lending their experience and connections help licensing specialists assess new inventions and to assess and develop promising ideas into potential startups.

Here are examples of several MiRs and their work:

Meera Vijan (pictured above left) has over 30 years of experience in the advanced battery and flat-panel display industries. Meera has guided Elegus, providing the company founders with business advice and connections to potential partners. She also helped Elegus to secure translational research funding from U-M’s MTRAC-Advanced Transportation program (also supported by the MEDC) and a business relationship with a leading battery manufacturer. Elegus recently became as one of U-M’s 2017 class of licensed startups.

Dave Hartmann (pictured above center) has over 30 years of experience with embedded systems and semiconductors and several startups. One of Dave’s most recent projects was Movellus Circuits where Dave mentored a recent PhD in the formation and launch of this Ann Arbor based semiconductor startup. Dave also provided coordination with several other programs and groups, including MTRAC, CFE, SPARK, and other local Angel investors. With Dave’s guidance, Movellus is now entering the revenue stage with a high growth business model ready for its initial venture capital round.

T3N also provides pooled MiRs to universities, allowing the talent resources of talent-rich regions, such as Ann Arbor, to provide services that are shared. One recent example is this startup out of Wayne State University that was looking for management talent to assist in its launch.

Bruce Markham (pictured above right), one of T3N’s pooled MiRs, shares his time and experience among several of the other T3N member universities. Recently Bruce was able to connect an entire executive team to this Wayne State startup, based on his network established from over 30 years in the pharmaceutical industry.

According to Ken Nisbet, associate vice-president of U-M Technology Transfer and the founder of the T3N program, “T3N has provided the talent resources that have had an enormous impact on U-M’s tech transfer performance. These T3N resources are also playing major roles within other partnered programs, such as the faculty outreach programs of FFMI, CFE, and SPH, the MTRAC and Coulter translational research programs, and the Monroe-Brown and Invest Michigan pre-seed programs. These partnered programs and the talent resources enabled by T3N have accelerated the commercialization of the opportunities from U-M and our other sister universities.”

Denise Graves, University Relations Director, MEDC Entrepreneurship & Innovation, noted “The Technology Transfer Talent Network (T3N) has been integral in providing the much needed talent resources to university projects throughout Michigan. Mentors bring significant experience, advice and networks to projects that are at a critical point in their advancement and growth. It is a pleasure to collaborate with these 7 key universities in the support of talent to commercialize university research.”

The T3N program was recently awarded $1.2 million from the MEDC to extend further the benefits of this talent program. The continued investment from MEDC along with matched investments from our universities have developed and retained entrepreneurial talent, increased awareness and attracted resources to Michigan universities, and increased the pace of the contributions of Michigan universities to the economies of communities throughout our state.

For more information about T3N, contact Mike Psarouthakis at