Cover of 2016 MSU Product Center Annual Report

2016 MSU Product Center Annual Report

Director's Letter

In last year’s annual report, Chris Peterson bid you farewell as he anticipated stepping down as the founding director of the MSU Product Center. He said that he hoped he had laid a foundation for the continued growth and success of the Center. As the new director, I can attest to the fact that he has done exactly that. He has left behind an excellent staff, a fiscally sound organization, highly effective and supportive connections with stakeholders inside and outside of MSU, and a path to a very bright future.

While I, personally, can take absolutely no credit for any of it (I assumed my role as director on September 1), the Product Center had yet another very impressive year of accomplishments and impact in Fiscal Year 2015-16. We assisted 437 clients in developing their business concepts, helped 270 to start their ventures and provided specialized services to 370, all through over 4,000 one-on-one counseling sessions. Sixty-two ventures were launched that created economic activity. Since our inception, we have launched 543 new ventures, with impressive cumulative economic impacts, as detailed in the accompanying table. All of this gives testimony to the power of entrepreneurship to transform lives and economies and to the dedication of our staff and our partners to fostering that entrepreneurship.

Our success, as always, hinges on the contributions of:• Our campus staff, which helps clients with feasibility studies, food safety, labeling, market analysis, monitoring & evaluation, product testing, research, and scaling larger enterprises as well as staging major events such as Making It In Michigan;

  • The Innovation Counselors, who work in the field with agricultural and food product businesses throughout Michigan;
  • The many MSU faculty, who assist our clients with addressing a host of needs;
  • Our many external stakeholders, who foster entrepreneurs and the Product Center;
  • Our long-term MSU funders and partners: AgBioResearch, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, MSU Extension, Project Green, and the university itself; and
  • Our external funders and partners: Center for Regional Food Systems, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Michigan Farm Bureau, Michigan Integrated Food and Farming Systems, U. S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, USDA Rural Development, and our many other large and small friends and partners.

My deep and sincere thanks to each and every one of you!

In this year’s report, you will find the details of the activities that underlie our success, including:

  • Our venture development, specialized services, accelerated growth and cooperative development service lines
  • The further development of the Food Processing and Innovation Center, culminating in its construction in 2017;
  • Our strategic research services, including those of the Center for Economic Analysis;
  • The Making It In Michigan Conference and Trade Show; and
  • Our award-winning clients.

Having the opportunity to lead this extraordinary organization is an honor and a privilege. It is my aspiration to maintain the great strengths of the Product Center and leverage those to achieve even greater impact in the future. We will strive to be as persistent, resilient and innovative as the entrepreneurs we serve. We look forward to our continued partnership with all of you as we pursue these goals.

Thomas S. Lyons, Ph.D,

Director, MSU Product Center Food-Ag-Bio

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