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Community Advocacy Organization

East Lansing’s Technology Innovation Center Celebrates 15 Years of Propelling High-Tech Startup

Open house, hosted by the Lansing Regional SmartZone, also showcased the LRSZ’s new brand identity.

EAST LANSING, Mich.—(Oct. 26, 2023)—The Lansing Regional SmartZone (LRSZ) this evening hosted the 15th anniversary celebration for the Technology Innovation Center (TIC), which has nurtured ground-breaking ideas and success-driven entrepreneurs in the Greater Lansing region since its opening in 2008. The event, which recognized the visionary leaders and committed partners who have helped the TIC over the past 15 years, included the first public showing of the LRSZ video commemorating this milestone.

“This anniversary offers a tremendous opportunity to celebrate entrepreneurs pushing our region’s economy forward, as well as the community partners critical to supporting collaboration and growth in this ecosystem,” said Ben Bakken, outgoing chair of the Local Development Finance Authority (LDFA), which oversees the LRSZ. “We’ve come a long way over the past 15 years. Given the momentum and additional resources we have now, I can’t wait to see what success looks like in another 15 years.”

The following leaders and partners were recognized at the celebration:

  • Jeff Smith, director of research parks at the MSU Research Foundation and a key driver in the creation of the TIC, received the Technology Innovation Center Lifetime Achievement Award.

  • Katy Kelly of Total Reentry Solutions received the Future of the Technology Innovation Center Award, for her startup’s work supporting people returning from incarceration. Total Reentry Solutions has experienced exponential growth since joining the TIC earlier this year.

  • The City of East Lansing Economic Development and Planning department received the Founders Circle Award for its forethought and commitment in creating the TIC.

  • The Michigan State University Research Foundation and Spartan Innovations; Michigan State University and the Michigan State University Innovation Center; the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP); and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) all received Funders Circle Awards, for their continued financial support of the TIC as well as commitment to its ongoing success through programming.

  • The Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation received the Ecosystem Partner Award, for its support of student entrepreneurs as the first step in engaging critical talent pipeline from Michigan State University.

“So many amazing businesses have gotten their start through the TIC,” said Smith, recipient of the Technology Innovation Center Lifetime Achievement Award. “The fact that the TIC is still thriving 15 years later speaks to the passion and brilliance of Lansing’s entrepreneurial community, as well as the dedication of our community partners, who understood the immense return on investment their support would generate for our region.”

Over the past 15 years, the TIC has welcomed more than 120 businesses into this space, covering everything from advanced medical technologies to innovative agricultural technologies and from go-carts to wine cellars. Today, the TIC continues to provide a collaborative workspace, programmatic support, and vital resources at its 7,000 square-foot facility in downtown East Lansing. The TIC offers its tenants a host of resources, including networking sessions, skills boot camps and a full-scale podcast studio.

“The future is bright—for the TIC, for the LRSZ, and for the Greater Lansing region as a whole,” said Jessy Gregg, the incoming chair of the LDFA. “I’m excited to continue the work of leveraging partnerships to help transform our regional economy and create the best possible environment for the next generation of world-changing tech startups.”

The open house also provided an opportunity for community members to see the LRSZ’s new brand identity. This brand identity conveys a sense of the innovation, interconnectivity, and creativity that positions the Lansing Regional SmartZone (LRSZ) as an ecosystem of resources — in high-tech incubators and on Main Street alike.

“The Lansing Regional SmartZone’s new brand identity reflects our mission and driving force to serve as a centralized hub for programming and resources to those in technology, as well as those seeking to better utilize the technology we have,” said LRSZ Executive Director Harrison Leffel-Jones. “While our partners and entrepreneurs remain distinct entities, we gain strength and insight when our experiences intersect.”

The Lansing Regional SmartZone stimulates the growth of technology-based businesses in the Lansing region by funding local partners to deliver exceptional entrepreneurial support services. A dynamic organization of leaders from all backgrounds and business sectors, the LRSZ is a partnership between Ingham County, City of Lansing, City of East Lansing, Lansing Community College, East Lansing Public Schools, Lansing School District, Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Michigan State University Research Foundation and Michigan State University Innovation Center. Since 2012, LEAP has managed the Lansing Regional SmartZone on behalf of the Local Development Finance Authority. “The TIC has been a powerhouse for our local economy, creating jobs and serving as a central hub for business leaders, students, faculty and others who have been at the forefront of technology solutions in our region,” said Bob Trezise, president and CEO of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, which manages LRSZ. “The TIC’s ongoing success is a testament to Lansing’s growing reputation as a regional hotspot to start and grow a business. As it continues to thrive, our entire region benefits.”

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