In October of 2014, Invent@NMU opened as a program of Northern Michigan University to provide an experiential learning opportunity for students, as well as to help regional inventors and entrepreneurs take their initial product ideas to market launch. It was created to provide students with the opportunity to use their education in real-world situations, while simultaneously contributing to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Upper Peninsula. NMU funded the pilot program for the first three years of its existence and continues to offer support in many ways. With a mission to support NMU students and faculty, and regional community members, Invent@NMU has a proven model for developing opportunities, using the expertise of NMU students and local professionals to make a positive impact on regional economic development.
While its roots are in product development, in early 2017, Invent@NMU expanded its services and capabilities to help community members throughout the Upper Peninsula with opening and operating small businesses. To further this commitment, in July of 2017, Invent@NMU partnered with Innovate Marquette SmartZone to enhance the organization’s connection to the community and offer even more business resources. The SmartZone’s multi-fold mission of start-up support, tech company acceleration, and innovation for the Marquette entrepreneurial ecosystem complements the Invent@NMU program and allows for a greater range and depth of services to be offered to clients. This partnership is made possible by funding from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the City of Marquette, and Northern Michigan University.