Press Release: University officials to weigh in on urban innovation


Michigan State President Lou Anna K. Simon and University of Detroit Mercy President Antoine Garibaldi to discuss universities’ role in urban innovation at Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium 2015 in Detroit Oct. 23

Media Contact: Barbara Fornasiero, EAFocus Communications, 248.260.8466;

Detroit, Mich. – Oct. 5, 2015 –The Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative is pleased to announce Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon and University of Detroit Mercy President Antoine Garibaldi, along with University of Michigan Vice President of Government Relations Cynthia Wilbanks and Wayne State University Vice President of Economic Development Ned Staebler, will discuss a university’s role in driving and assisting urbaninnovation and business development at the Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium 2015, to beheld in Detroit on Oct. 23 at the College for Creative Studies. Urban entrepreneurship refers to for-profit business innovation that produces needed products and services for urban communities, or makes a significant number of jobs available to urban residents.

The announcement was made by W. David Tarver, founder and president of the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative and chief event organizer. Last month, Tarver announced that Miguel McKelvey, co-founder and chief creative officer of New York-based company WeWork, which provides workspace, community and services around the world, will be the keynote speaker at the event.

“The addition of the authoritative voices of Michigan’s leading universities reflects the growing interest in urban entrepreneurship and the important role higher education plays not only in educating our future business and community leaders but in harnessing and directing the intellectual resources that our universities possess,” Tarver said.

Staebler, who is also president and CEO of TechTown Detroit, will serve as program host during the luncheon session, exploring with Simon, Garibaldi and Wilbanks what their universities are doing to advance urban quality of life, where their efforts have succeeded or fallen short, and how each respective university nurtures and supports the type of innovation needed to enhance urban communities. The luncheon program is scheduled from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Major sponsors for the Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium 2015 are:

  • University of Michigan – Innovate Blue
  • Michigan State University – Eli Broad School of Business
  • Wayne State University
  • Comerica Bank
  • Diplomat
  • Fifth Third Bank
  • InvestDetroit
  • JPMorgan Chase
  • Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)
  • mQrg, LLC
  • New Economy Initiative (NEI)
  • Rock Ventures LLC

In addition to serving as sponsors, the three universities listed are also event co-hosts. The inaugural Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium was held last year on the campus of the University of Michigan to a capacity crowd of nearly 300 attendees. The event is moving to Detroit this year to attract an even broader audience of business innovators, academics, students and community and government leaders. Through expert panels and targeted business breakout sessions, symposium attendees will receive information and tools to assist in creating scalable, profit-making businesses that address important urban community needs. A complete agenda is available at

Details on the Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium – “Shock the (Urban) World”

  • When: Friday, Oct. 23, 2015; 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (with reception and networking immediately following until 8 p.m.)
  • Where: College for Creative Studies, A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education; 6400 Cass Avenue, Detroit 48202
  • Cost: tickets are $50 ($75 after 10/16) and include a continental breakfast and lunch (a limited number of complimentary tickets are available to full-time students)
  • Registration; advance registration is required; purchase tickets online at
  • Sponsors: Major sponsors for the event are the University of Michigan – Innovate Blue, Michigan State University – Eli Broad School of Business, Wayne State University, Comerica Bank, Diplomat, Fifth Third Bank, InvestDetroit, JPMorgan Chase, Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), mQrg LLC, New Economy Initiative (NEI) and Rock Ventures LLC. For sponsorship information, please call Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative at (313) 457-2050 or email
  • Event questions: for general questions about the event, please email

About the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative

The Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative, founded by W. David Tarver, a technology entrepreneur, Michigan native and author of “Proving Ground: A Memoir,” offers programming and resources that encourage, facilitate and enable the development of for-profit businesses that explicitly and intentionally address the needs of urban communities. Learn more here.


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