Industry-Sponsored Research Week
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Oakland U’s Mobilization Zone platform is front door for regional engagement


By David Schwartz
Published: August 7th, 2018

Not all universities have the research power of an MIT, a Carnegie Mellon, or a Stanford — and some are worlds away from that sort of reputation — but that doesn’t mean they can’t make the most of their faculty and student research in both commercialization and corporate partnerships.

Just ask Oakland University in Rochester, MI, a regional school whose newly created Mobilization Zone (MZ) platform is serving as a magnet for entrepreneurs as well as companies, bringing economic development benefits along with it.

Launched 11 months ago, the MZ is a platform for integrating all aspects of Oakland University (OU) to reach out to the regional community, including the business community. MZ engagement platforms include an undergraduate research center, a lecture series, and a database to match university resources to community needs. MZ economic development platforms include an Idea to Business (I2B) program, two business incubators, the Oakland Business Engagement Center (OBEC), industry outreach and strategic support, and technology transfer.

David Stone, PhD, chief research officer at OU, arrived at the university two years ago with the idea of raising its profile as a regional research university that served as a “steward of place.” He wanted to support faculty who saw ways of translating what they did in the laboratory or in the field out into the world.

“We wanted to create something specifically for a regional leader,” said Stone. “Unlike flagship universities or land grants, whose research has worldwide impact, regional research schools are very much stewards of place. While we sometimes do have global impact, we’re always the local neighborhood university.”

Michael Long, PhD, who has been a mentor-in-residence at OU since January 2016, was thinking along the same lines. “Dave and I thought about this type of entity without the name independently,” recalls Long. “When I got here, I could see that there wasn’t a front door, that there wasn’t any way for anyone to interact.”

A detailed article on Oakland U’s Mobilization Zone platform appears in the July issue of Industry-Sponsored Research Management. To subscribe and access the full article, along with the entire subscriber-only archive of best practices and success strategies for building corporate partnerships and engagement, CLICK HERE.

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