Lisa Katz| Crain’s Detroit Blog

With investments from initiatives like the New Economy Initiative, Southeast Michigan has seen prolific growth in its regional entrepreneurship ecosystem in recent years. Thousands of would-be and actual entrepreneurs received Kauffman FastTrac training in how to launch a successful business; insYght was developed to provide entrepreneurs with a “search-it-yourself” database of tools and support; and the Detroit Innovation Hub was “designed to connect the dots of innovation” from Ann Arbor to Detroit, to support new job creation and development along the Woodward Corridor. Other major players, including Dan Gilbert, have helped fill the gaps in the region’s job-creation fabric, supporting new innovation, incubation and investment initiatives like Bizdom U, the M@dison, and Detroit Venture Partners.

Last fall, another group of partners joined forces to make their own contributions to new job development in Southeast Michigan. The Workforce Intelligence Network, Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, National Center for Manufacturing Sciences, and Detroit Regional Chamber received funding from four federal partners (Department of Commerce, Small Business Administration, Department of Energy, and Department of Labor) and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation as part of the national Jobs & Innovation Accelerator Initiative. The project, called InnoState, is seeking out area manufacturers that specialize in working with concept developers—be they entrepreneurs or large firms—to help turn their innovative concepts into new products. These New Product Contract Manufacturers (NPCMs) would then be eligible to receive a suite of services to help them grow their business supporting entrepreneurs in the region and well beyond.

A New Product Contract Manufacturer is a firm that is comfortable executing low-volume production runs on new and varied products. Part of their suite of services may include making prototypes, improving designs, evaluating process options, developing and optimizing processes, and supporting early, low-volume to even full-production. The firms typically focus on complete products and sub-assembly, not just components. They also tend to have a diverse portfolio of product development offerings, not specializing too heavily in a particular component or process.

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