MSUToday
Published: Sept. 9, 2015

New legal partnership helps student entrepreneurs

Contact(s): Kristen Parker Media Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709 Kristen.Parker@cabs.msu.edu, Daniel Linna Jr. College of Law office: (517) 432-6934 linnadan@law.msu.edu, Amber Shinn MSU Innovation Center office: (517) 884-0718 shinnamb@msu.edu

Hoping to foster entrepreneurship in Michigan, Michigan State University College of Law and Brooks Kushman, a Southfield-based intellectual property law firm, have partnered to provide legal support to students in The Hatch, MSU’s student technology incubator.

The program is part of MSU Law’s Center for Legal Services Innovation – LegalRnD for short – a legal research center launched last month.

“We are building an incubator-based program focused on improving legal service delivery through innovation and entrepreneurship for our law graduates,” said Daniel Linna Jr., director of LegalRnD and assistant dean for career development at MSU Law. “Our graduates get experience providing advice to student companies and also learn from the mentors, advisers, students and others who work in this startup ecosystem.”

Recent MSU Law graduates Silvia Mansoor and Jonathan Fowler were hired as Brooks Kushman associates to kick off the program. Their practices at Brooks Kushman are focused on helping start-ups and entrepreneurs develop intellectual property portfolios to effectively protect their innovations and maintain a competitive advantage while preventing legal issues.

“We recognize startups and entrepreneurs play an important role in our economy,” said Mark Cantor, president of Brooks Kushman. “A good intellectual property strategy is often overlooked by up-and-coming businesses. Through this incubator-based program, we are giving entrepreneurs a better understanding of IP to help build a strong business plan and ensure their innovations are well protected as they are brought to market.”

LegalRnD conducts research and development to improve legal-service delivery. Classes focus on using process improvement, project management, knowledge management, data analytics and technology to increase access to legal services.

The Hatch is a creative co-working space for student entrepreneurs. Hatch members share a common workspace on the third floor of 325 E. Grand River Ave., each working on their own project, but collaborating to increase the probability of each venture’s success.

Spartan Innovations provides resources, including access to capital investment, conference rooms, office equipment, business development and legal support and free Wi-Fi. Accessible by key fob 24 hours a day, The Hatch provides students freedom to work at their own convenience. This setting enables a social work environment for spontaneous creation of marketable ideas, facilitating a community of like-minded student entrepreneurs

“Students come together at The Hatch to find solutions to problems they face themselves, or problems whole cities or countries face,” said Paul Jaques, director of student and community engagement at Spartan Innovations. “Every new challenge is different, so it’s great to be able to provide students with access to flexible support. It’s exciting to see them come up with great ideas to make the world around them better.”

Spartan Innovations is co-located with and complements the work being done by MSU Technologies, the university’s technology transfer office, and Business-CONNECT, MSU’s portal for engagement with the business community. All three units are part of the MSU Innovation Center.

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