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Instant Innovation Program


We are currently between award cycles. We anticipate that MCRN program opportunities will open in a few months. Please enter your contact information here to receive details as soon as they are announced.

Program Overview

The MCRN university partners represent a depth and breadth of technical expertise that is of significant potential value but can be difficult to engage in a comprehensive manner. The Instant Innovation program supports implementation of structured and facilitated sessions in which companies can work with a strategic collection of technical experts from multiple MCRN university partners in the investigation of significant technical challenges and the identification of potential technologies and/or solutions. The sessions can lead to generation of new ideas and thinking, solve significant and persistent problems, and potentially lead to new, commercial offerings and other revenue or cost reduction opportunities for participating companies.

University research personnel are involved in Instant Innovation sessions as technical consultants. Matching funding is available through MCRN to cover consulting fees and expenses for conducting the sessions (e.g. facilitators, venue, food for participants).

Instant Innovation Event Details

The sessions typically follow a process developed by Inovo Technologies ( that combines tradi¬tional brainstorming with other techniques to help the partner organization identify technologies and solutions that address customers’ unmet needs and desires.

Proposing a Session

Please download full Instant Innovation description for proposal process, criteria and form. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact any of the representatives from the MCRN universities to discuss potential programs prior to application. Programs selected for implementation may have a broad impact within the proposing company with potential opportunities across the industrial sector.

Instant Innovation Program Agenda Components

  1. Springboard – This session provides an overview of what is known about technologies, alternatives and customer needs. This involves a general discussion on the information covered to ensure all participants are working from a common starting point. The emphasis is on customer needs, desires, difficult problems, and areas of high value in relevant industries.
  2. Break-Out Group Ideation – Participants break off into small groups, with each team generating ideas from a specific and different perspective.
  3. Concept Sharing and Expansion – The small groups present their ideas to the full workshop, and others will have an opportunity to make further contributions.
  4. Selection – Participants collectively select the top ideas for further development.
  5. Discussion – Group discussion of the top ideas to identify additions, constraints, investigative avenues etc.


This event includes presentations as well as hands-on working sessions. Therefore, there are two types of preparation required:

  1. Prepare questions for the group – Participants include top experts from the company and the University. If you have any questions about what’s possible, anticipated, or desirable, then this is a perfect opportunity to hear the different perspectives.
  2. Prepare to think about possibilities, needs and desires – The first step to engineering a highly desirable solution is to put yourself in the frame of mind of your customers and your customer’s customers. Be prepared to think how they think and experience what they experience. Your mind will need to span a range of thinking, including being creative, critical, accepting, and collaborative in turn.


By the end of the program, participants will have created a set of ideas for new research and development initiatives and potential solution concepts. After this session, those ideas and solutions may be directly incorporated into existing operations or may be the basis for follow on research and development and strategic targeting of potential collaborative funding sources.


This event is coordinated MCRN participants and facilitated by firms experienced in helping organizations create innovative new offerings and become more innovative in the process.

Download full Instant Innovation description and application form (PDF)

University Collaborators

  • University of Michigan -  Dearborn
  • Wayne State University
  • Western Michigan University
  • Michigan State University
  • Michigan Tech
  • University of Michigan