Erb Institute at University of Michigan Launches Innovative Internship Program to Support Job Creation, Economic Renewal for Michigan

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Initiative stimulates clean tech and alternative energy entrepreneurship

Sustainability is a powerful lens for seeing the kinds of opportunities that will revitalize Michigan's economy

A visionary cadre of MBA/MS students at The Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan have taken summer internship positions at business incubators, government agencies and non-profits across Michigan to help spark the state's transformation toward a healthy, sustainable economy. The internship program, sponsored by the Erb Institute, is designed to create jobs and stimulate economic recovery through clean technology, renewable energy and sustainable business entrepreneurship initiatives in Michigan and elsewhere in the region.

Aimed at fostering innovative thinking that will drive the new "green" economy, the internship program matches Erb Institute students with companies, public agencies and non-governmental organizations that are developing sustainable products, services and technologies. The students, who earn dual MBA/MS degrees from the Ross School of Business and the School of Natural Resources and Environment, bring unique expertise to these organizations because these students have a deep understanding of both the business and the science of sustainability. The Institute supplements internship wages paid by non-profit and government agencies to make them more competitive with generally higher-paying private-sector internships.

For example, Paul Gruber, Bryan Hogle, Imogen Taylor and Nicolas Wetzler, all Erb Fellows in the class of 2010, already are deeply entrenched at marketing strategy and business incubation firm Turtlerock, where they are working on a multimillion-dollar United States Department of Energy grant application to help develop advanced battery technology. This summer, the group also will devote time to the Turtlerock Greentech Foundation, which supports clean technology R&D in the region. Specific projects will include an entrepreneurial competition to spur greentech innovation and the creation of a documentary on greentech development in Michigan.

"The combined impact of the economic recession and the automotive industry downturn has been particularly challenging for Southeast Michigan, but in the wake of failure we see the opportunity for unprecedented green business growth in this region," said Loch McCabe, a former Erb Institute External Advisory Board member and principle with the clean tech management consulting firm Shepherd Advisors. "Several of the projects with which these students are engaged will directly help build Michigan's clean energy infrastructure, helping communities and companies to better weather this economic transition, and position themselves to be more competitive and successful in the future."

The Erb internship program also includes several appointments through the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM), which provides operational and strategic support for small businesses. Through the SBAM, Erb students Sam Lines and Bharath Iyengar, class of 2011 will work with Shepherd Advisors to conduct clean energy supply chain research; support Michigan State University's Michigan Future Bio-economy Scenario Planning project; assist with energy efficiency planning tools and services to Michigan communities; and support University of Michigan Energy Assessment Center efforts to educate and train Michigan businesses on increasing energy efficiency.

"Sustainability is a powerful lens for seeing the kinds of opportunities that will revitalize Michigan's economy," said Erb Institute Managing Director Rick Bunch. "As a part of the Southeast Michigan community, we are pleased to support an internship program that brings our students' expertise to bear on one of the greatest economic challenges it has ever faced."

The Erb Institute, a joint program between the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business and School of Natural Resources, awards dual MBA/MS degrees to graduates of its three-year program, as well as serving as the center for cutting edge research into global companies' sustainability strategies. More information can be found at http://www.erb.umich.edu.

About the Frederick A. and Barbara M. Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise
Created in 1996, the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise is a 50-50 partnership between the School of Natural Resources and Environment and the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. The Institute fosters professional education, public outreach and scientific scholarship supportive of the transition to sustainability - that is, meeting the fundamental needs of a growing human population in an equitable manner within the means of nature. Utilizing a collaborative approach, the Institute helps business, government and civil society organizations to achieve meaningful progress toward sustainability. Its mission is to be a premier source of knowledge and leadership for the achievement of environmentally, economically and socially sustainable development and enterprise. For more information, visit http://www.erb.umich.edu .

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