A new business incubator at Michigan State University’s research campus in downtown Grand Rapids offers a new venue for tech entrepreneurs to nurture their innovations.
The Bridge, scheduled to open March 1 in the Doug Meijer Medical Innovation Building at MSU’s Grand Rapids Innovation Park, wants to attract high-tech, high-growth startups that are working to commercialize an innovation.
Spartan Innovations, a subsidiary of the Michigan State University Research Foundation, and Health Innovation Partners, the joint venture that developed the Meijer Medical Innovation Building, recently opened applications for tech startups that want to operate in the incubator.
With room to house up to two-dozen companies, The Bridge has drawn “overwhelming” interest from tech startups, said Kyle McGregor, director of health innovations at Spartan Innovations.
“We are here and we are ready to get it going,” McGregor said. “There is just a lot of interest both in the space and the opportunity and the promise. I’m not worried about filling those 24 spaces, generally. I’m worried about filling those 24 spaces with the companies that can really benefit from each other in that true incubation style, and making sure that we have the right people that can come in and collaborate, find ways to make their businesses get better together, and find synergies.”
At 19,400 square feet on the fourth floor in 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 an array of support services. Those include business coaching and education as well as networking with seasoned entrepreneurs and prospective capital investors, including the Research Foundation’s Red Cedar Ventures and Michigan Rise funds.
Tenants “from day one … can be mixing and mingling with venture capital groups” involved in the business incubator, McGregor said.
“We have kind of a white-glove service here: If you come up with an idea, if you have some kind of innovation that fits into that tech category, we have the skills to take you from the back of a napkin to (a) Series A and being part of that funding round,” McGregor said.
Available collaborative office spaces range from 250 to 2,400 square feet. The incubator also provides tenants with conference rooms and phone booths, a work café, and a furnished rooftop deck and conference space.
Many of the interested startups are involved 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, forge connections, apply for funding and scale their startups.”
“We have a pretty good range of people from our portfolio through the Michigan State University Research Foundation that we’ll be able to pull into the space, obviously. But we’re trying to make this the community’s space as well,” he said. “We want to figure out ways to more holistically ingrain ourselves within the community to find anybody and everybody who’s looking to build, to create, to innovate and find a place to find 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 health 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 for advancing bioengineering, artificial intelligence and healthcare innovation through medical devices and other technologies and is creating vast opportunities for healthcare breakthroughs right here on the Medical Mile.”