Winter Newsletter 2017--It's Conference Time!

MBIA Annual Member Meeting & Workshops

The 2017 Michigan Business Incubator Association Annual Member Meeting & Workshops
will take place on Thursday, March 16th from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. We will gather at Western Michigan University's Fetzer Center, 1903 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49008 (
Features of this year's conference include two morning concurrent sessions, the Annual member meeting, a lunch, a keynote speaker, two afternoon concurrent sessions, and a networking reception. A detailed agenda available at
The cost to attend is $100 for members (please log-in before registering to receive membership discount) and $120 for non-members.  Want to attend the meeting and join at the same time? The 2-for-1 special is just $200 for an Organizational Membership PLUS one ticket to conference.  REGISTER NOW!

MBIA Committee Members Needed

Are you interested in getting more involved with the MBIA organization? If so, then a committee spot may be just what you want. The Membership & Marketing Committee and the Events & Training Committee are both looking for members who want to help with hands-on tasks. These committees don't just talk things to death--they do things!  Additionally, the finance committee is looking for a person to assist with the financial oversight of the MBIA. So if numbers are your thing, the finance committee wants you. If you are interested in serving on a committee, please send an email to stating your desired committee. Someone from the appropriate committee will contact you.

New Director of WMed Innovation Center

As she takes over as the new assistant dean for the medical school’s Innovation Center, Sandra Cochrane will lead a facility she knows well and helped build more than a decade ago.

Her new role will be a chance for her to grow the Innovation Center into an “entrepreneurial landmark,” an “entrepreneurial beacon” and take care of what she says is unfinished business at the incubator and business accelerator.

“I left (the Innovation Center) nine years ago,” Cochrane said. “We were young and inexperienced … This is a chance to come back and grow the program into something that I wanted it to be all along – the entrepreneurial landmark, the entrepreneurial beacon of the community.”

Cochrane will oversee the daily operations and activities of the facility, a 69,000-square-foot building on WMed’s Parkview Campus that currently houses 16 client companies specializing in life science, technology and engineering.

Rea the complete story at

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What's Happening

MBIA Board of Directors Election

It is time for the MBIA to once again vote for its board of directors. According to the by-laws, in March of each year an election will take place during the annual membership meeting.  Members may vote in person using paper ballots or electronically via an email process through the MBIA website. Electronic voting for board elections will open on March 1 and will close on March 31.Please make sure you vote during the month of March as votes that arrive before or after the opening/closing dates are not valid and will not be counted. This years slate of candidates is the current board; no new candidates were nominated. To learn more about the current incumbent board, click HERE.

InBIA In Seattle, WA

The 31st International Conference on Business Incubation (#ICBI31) is the only global forum where entrepreneurial leaders from around the world connect and converse. Entrepreneurial ecosystem leaders from around the globe will gather at our conference to discover industry trends and best practices for establishing high-growth programs. Packed with 4 epic keynote presentations and over 40 sessions of interactive workshops and panels, this year’s event will be critical to improving your high-impact entrepreneurship centers. We’ll dive into how some of the world’s best entrepreneurial ecosystems operate and thrive in today’s ever-changing global economy.

Are you attending? If so, please email MBIA President Sandra Cochrane at to let her know. She will coordinate a get-together of all the MI delegates while in Seattle.

MBIA Legislative Day in May

Wednesday, May 3 will be MBIA Legislative Day from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in Lansing.  Please make time on your calendar to visit with your state congressional representative—senators and/or representatives.  You can participate by scheduling a 15-minute session with your representative and/or senator. The purpose of the meeting would be to inform your legislator of the positive impact your program is having in your community. Bring data to back your assertions, and if possible, bring a client company rep with you. Direct testimonial from a client is very powerful.

If your legislator is not available, meeting with office staff members is fine, too. Not sure who your representatives are? You can look them up on the MBIA’s advocacy page where the list of all MI legislators is located. The link is

Once you schedule a meeting, please email the details to MBIA at to let us know. We will maintain a list. If more than one person on our list is scheduled to see the same legislator, we can alert them and ask that they visit together.

Legislative Day will include a briefing for interested legislators and staffers, to which you are all invited. We will also have a table set up in the rotunda where we will provide information to any interested people. More information and details will be provided as the date approaches.

Please set aside time on your calendar now to participate in this important event that we plan to host every year. Only by educating our legislators can we expect them to enact legislation that will positively impact entrepreneurs in Michigan. Make your voices and the voices of your clients heard. Call your legislators’ offices now and schedule a meeting on May 3. Thank you!

2017 Member Meeting Schedule

Every other month MBIA hosts a member meeting at a different location around the state. Here are the dates and locations for the 2017 member meetings. Please put them on your calendar and attend if you are able. There will be a registration page for each meeting active about a month before each. Keep an eye on the MBIA calendar for more information and links to the registration pages.

March 16—Annual MBIA Member Meeting (in Kalamazoo)
May 3—Legislative Day (in Lansing)
July 6 at MLSIC in Plymouth—Topic TBD
September 26-28—GLIn2 Summit (in Grand Rapids)
November 2 at MTIC in Midland—Topic TBD

New Name: ACRE AgTech

The Great Lakes Ag-Tech Business Incubator, which serves entrepreneurs, farmers and emerging small businesses, today announced a new name and visual identity. The incubator, now known as ACRE AgTech, will continue its work to connect, develop and cultivate agriculture technology innovations, either into new businesses or commercializing them in partnership with established entities.

Like an acre of farmland, ACRE AgTech defines a place for production and growth. ACRE connects entrepreneurs with the resources they need to succeed, furthering the cultivation of emerging technologies for today’s agricultural economy, and leveraging West Michigan’s legacy as one of the most productive agriculture regions in the United States.

“For the farmers who define our agriculture economy, an acre is a tract of land, an area of opportunity, the foundation upon which to grow a family business,” said Paul Sachs, executive director of ACRE AgTech. “We see this ACRE as the connection into a much broader startup ecosystem. Our team brings the experience to help our entrepreneurs navigate barriers, connect with opportunities, and access expertise as they develop their innovation into a business.”

ACRE provides customized business services to help clients address their specific challenges as they launch their agriculture technology into the marketplace. ACRE’s eight sponsor organizations also use their expertise to assist staff in addressing each client’s unique business hurdles. These include: BizStream, Consumers Energy, Greenstone Farm Credit Services, Ottawa County Farm Bureau, Rehmann, Warner Norcross & Judd, Watson Intellectual Property Group and West Michigan Community Bank. Additionally, organizations such as Agri-Tek, Hudsonville Creamery, Stryker Corporation and Zeeland Farm Services provide industry access to startups through their leadership serving on the ACRE board.

“Today’s startup founders are developing new information, technologies and methods to increase yields and expand our food system, and they often don’t know what is necessary to start a business, manage its growth, and optimize production,” said Larry Kooiker, ACRE board member and president of Agritek. “Our mission is to bring our financial and intellectual capital to create a customized program where every entrepreneur can thrive.”

Holland-based Burch Partners led the rebranding efforts, a result of a Rural Business Development Grant from the USDA to enhance marketing and outreach efforts. The process included interviewing key stakeholders about their perceptions of the incubator, their involvement with it and how they see it in the future. The agency will continue to roll out the brand this spring and summer through new marketing materials and events.

MBIA Template 1 - Winter Newsletter 2017--It's Conference Time!