NMU entrepreneur program opens its doors

MARQUETTE — Invent@NMU has just started up as an entrepreneurial program.

For a small fee, NMU students will help people with product ideas take those ideas to the marketplace. The students will develop skills in design, manufacturing and marketing.

“People would come in with their ides, and I would be giving them sketches, models and just helping them along with the aesthetics of the whole process,” NMU senior and Invent@NMU industrial designer Sarah Nixon said. “It’s definitely going to give me a lot of different connections and allow me to connect more with the community and other businesspeople in the same major.”

The student employees will receive mentorship and guidance from the entrepreneur behind such ventures as Marquette Backcountry Skis and VIO, Incorporated.

“The students are the program,” Invent@NMU founding director Dave Ollila said. “They are the brains behind it, and they are the ones that are going to be doing the work. What we’ve found is a treasure trove of incredibly talented, fearless students here at NMU who have this natural raw talent and creativity and courage, and they’re getting a fantastic education.”

As it does business inside a former mBank branch location on Presque Isle Avenue in Marquette, Invent@NMU is going to specialize in ideas that require a year or less, and $100,000 or less, to reach the marketplace.

NMU president Dr. Fritz Erickson says that when he started the job in July, Invent@NMU was one of the first upcoming ventures on campus that he heard about.

“I thought, ‘why not? We should do this’,” NMU president Dr. Fritz Erickson said. “Invent@NMU is a brilliant opportunity to give our students, our faculty, our staff, the community a place to go when they have an idea.”

Invent@NMU is starting by working with students that have product ideas. It’ll open to the general public in the near future.