New business incubator in Michigan State UniversityThe research campus in downtown Grand Rapids offers a new place for tech entrepreneurs to nurture their innovations.
The bridgescheduled to open on March 1 in Doug Meijer Building for Medical Innovation at MSU’s Grand Rapids Innovation Park, wants to attract high-growth, high-tech startups working to commercialize an innovation.
Spartan innovationa subsidiary of the Michigan State University Research Foundation, and Partners for Health Innovationthe joint venture that developed the Meijer Medical Innovation Building recently opened applications for tech startups that want to work in the incubator.
With space to house up to two dozen companies, The Bridge has attracted “tremendous” interest from tech startups, said Kyle McGregor, director of health innovation at Spartan Innovations.
“We’re here and we’re ready to roll it,” McGregor said. “There’s just a lot of interest in both the space and the opportunities and the promise. In general, I am not worried about filling in these 24 fields. I’m concerned about filling those 24 spots with the companies that can really benefit from each other in this true incubation style, and making sure that we have the right people that can come in and collaborate, find ways to make your business better together, and find synergies.”
At 19,400 square feet on the fourth floor of the Meijer Medical Innovation Building, The Bridge offers low-cost space and a “one-stop shop” for budding entrepreneurs to work on their idea and access a range of support services. These include business coaching and education, as well as networking with experienced entrepreneurs and prospective equity investors, including the Research Foundation’s Red Cedar Ventures and Michigan Rise funds.
Tenants “from day one … can mix and mingle with venture capital groups” involved in the business incubator, McGregor said.
“We have kind of a no-nonsense service here: If you have an idea, if you have some kind of innovation that fits into this technology category, we have the skills to take you from the back of a napkin to ( ) Series A and be part of that round of funding,” McGregor said.
Co-working office spaces available range from 250 to 2,400 square feet. The incubator also provides tenants with conference rooms and phone booths, a work cafe and a furnished roof terrace and conference space.
Many of the startups interested are in health technology, although “any kind of tech thing could fit in here really, really well,” McGregor said. He describes The Bridge as “a hub for integrated talent and like-minded companies to collaborate, network, apply for funding and grow their startups.”
“We have a pretty good set of people from our portfolio through the Michigan State University Research Foundation that we will obviously be able to bring into the space. But we’re trying to make this a community space as well,” he said. “We want to find ways to root more holistically in the community to find anyone and everyone who wants to build, create, innovate and find a place to make a home here.”
Spartan Innovations developed The Bridge with Health Innovation Partners, a real estate development joint venture between Rockford Construction/Rockford Development, Walsh Construction/Walsh Investors and Murphy Development Group. The Grand Rapids SmartZone Local Development Finance Authority supported the project with funding.
“New and emerging healthcare companies are investing in Grand Rapids for good reason,” Mike Mraz, president of real estate development at Rockford Construction, said in a statement. “The bridge exemplifies our collective vision to advance bioengineering, artificial intelligence and healthcare innovation through medical devices and other technologies, and creates tremendous opportunities for healthcare breakthroughs right here on the Medical Mile.”