MTEC SmartZone helps local professional women unleash their entrepreneurial spirit

HOUGHTON, Michigan (May 20, 2013) – Four local professional women who share a strong drive for starting their own technology ventures are close to turning those aspirations into reality.

Michigan Technological University Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Megan Frost is among the group of women participating in a nationally renowned program designed to guide women through the process of starting their own technology companies.

MTEC SmartZone CEO Marilyn Clark and Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz are sponsoring the women in the ACTiVATE program, a 10-month course that guides participants through idea generation and commercial viability, to launch growth-oriented businesses.

The program takes place in Dearborn, at the University of Michigan’s Fairlane campus, and is taught by experienced entrepreneurs who provide participants with tools and access to a growing national network of successful entrepreneurial women. ACTiVATE began last August and will conclude this July.

Clark says ACTiVATE is a tool offered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to create an entrepreneur-rich environment in Michigan. “This is specifically a women-only program, developed because women faculty commercialize technology at a lesser rate than do men,” she said. “ACTiVATE provides a valuable opportunity for professional women of the Keweenaw to use their career skills and become entrepreneurs.”

Local participants include two additional Michigan Tech faculty – Mary Raber, Associate Director of the Institute for Leadership and Innovation, and Adrienne Minerick, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering – plus Lynn Elaison, Director of Manufacturing, Finance and Human Resources at GS Engineering.

The group partakes in a video conference every Tuesday evening on the Michigan Tech campus, and once a month, they fly to Dearborn for all-day Saturday sessions.

Frost, who, in her lab at Michigan Tech, developed a polymeric material designed to help control the body’s natural responses to make medical devices safer, said ACTiVATE is helping her understand how to bring her product to market.

“I understand the technology extremely well and I know what it takes to physically make it, but I don’t know how to translate it into, ‘Here’s a useful product that you can purchase and use.’ I have absolutely no business knowledge,” she said. “ACTiVATE has helped me bridge the gap between my technology and the practical place it has in the market.”

Although ACTiVATE is a highly intensive program that requires time and travel, MTEC SmartZone and Michigan Tech make it possible for each of these women to balance regular, full-time jobs and family commitments while pursuing their dreams of commercializing technology.

“Support from MTEC SmartZone and Michigan Tech helps these women attend the training so they can carry on in their full-time jobs and see their children at night,” Clark said.

Mroz said he is, “thrilled to have some of our best faculty involved in the program to move technologies at Michigan Tech forward and create companies.”

For more information about ACTiVATE, please visit

For more information about MTEC SmartZone, please call (906) 487-7000.