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U-M to co-sponsor second Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium

October 9, 2015

U-M to co-sponsor second Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium

The University of Michigan will be one of the sponsoring universities when the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative holds its annual Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium on Oct. 23 at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.

U-M will join academic co-sponsors Michigan State University and Wayne State University, along with business innovators, academics, students, and community and government leaders to inspire and ignite for-profit business solutions to urban challenges.

The three sponsor universities make up Michigan's University Research Corridor, one of the nation's top academic research clusters and the leading engine for innovation in Michigan and the Great Lakes region.

U-M hosted the inaugural Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium in 2014, which drew over 300 attendees. The second symposium has been moved to Detroit, and scheduled for a larger venue, with hopes of attracting an even larger audience.

The symposium connects entrepreneurial leaders with students and members of the community to share their skills and expertise to provide information and tools for aspiring entrepreneurs who wish to create innovative and profitable businesses that benefit the urban community.

"So many of our students, faculty and alumni are dedicated to working with Detroit communities, nonprofits and businesses to create a better tomorrow and a better world," said Cynthia Wilbanks, vice president for government relations, who will talk about the role of higher education in urban entrepreneurship, along with Michigan State President LouAnna K. Simon.

"We were pleased to support the first Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium last year, and look forward to bringing together our higher education partners, businesses, students and community this year to raise our collective impact on Detroit's future through entrepreneurship," Wilbanks said.

Tickets for the symposium are $50, or $75 if purchased after Oct. 16, and include a continental breakfast and lunch. There is no charge for students to attend. Advance registration is required and tickets may be purchased online at

The all-day event will feature keynote speaker Miguel McKelvey, co-founder and chief creative officer at WeWork Inc., which establishes innovative and collaborative working spaces, and has 17 venues across major cities in the U.S.

After the keynote address, various experts will introduce community engagement strategies that have worked for them and will discuss how they created businesses that solve important urban problems.

During the luncheon program, the universities will break down their important role in urban innovation, including initiatives they are taking to advance urban quality of life and where these efforts have both succeeded and failed.

The final learning session will take place after the luncheon. The topic will be business models for entry-level employment — how certain businesses (for example, Uber) have employed significant levels of low- to medium-level urban workers.

Afterward, symposium attendees will be able to take part in several interactive problem-solving sessions that address various topics including financing urban startups, technology, community engagement and more.

"Detroit is fertile ground for implementing urban business solutions, whether through new app-based technologies that allow for rapid change or a twist on traditional service that meet urban needs in transportation, health care, fresh food or other aspects of day-to-day living and quality of life enhancements," said W. David Tarver, founder and president of the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative. Tarver received undergraduate and graduate degrees in electrical engineering from U-M.

The event will conclude with a networking reception from 5-8 p.m.