Frequently Asked Questions

A SmartZone pinpoints a distinct geographical location where tech-based companies, entrepreneurs, and other small businesses are located in close proximity to the community assets they need to help maintain and grow their businesses.

A SmartZone includes access to a technology business accelerator like Innovate Marquette, which promotes collaboration between resource partners such as universities, industry and research organizations, state and government municipalities, and other innovators within the community.

Essentially, a SmartZone is classified as a region in which there is a growing technology and innovation hub, with the right resources and accelerators available to facilitate entrepreneurial collaboration and incubation for new and emerging businesses.

Learn more about Michigan SmartZone’s here

According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, the word innovation is defined as, “a new idea, method, or device; the introduction of something new”. Innovation is the concept around improving or replacing something, bringing it up to date by applying new processes, implementing new techniques, or identifying new ideas to create something of value.

When it’s applied in a business sense, a company will implement something new — whether that’s an idea, a service offering, or a product — all with the goal of boosting their bottom line. Think launching new products, reimagining existing products or services, or solving customer services requests in a brand new way.

Learn more about innovation here.

An entrepreneurial or business ecosystem is a diverse set of individuals, businesses, and systems that support the creation and growth of new opportunities for the larger community. 

  • In order for an ecosystem to succeed, it has to have four important elements: people, technology, capital, and infrastructure. Each entity in the ecosystem affects and is affected by others, creating a constantly evolving relationship between each other that must be characterized by flexibility and adaptability in order to survive.
  • The most successful entrepreneurial ecosystems act as talent magnets and innovation incubators, leading to greater economic and populace growth within the geographical region.

Learn more about entrepreneurial ecosystems here.

An “innovation hub” refers to an area where there are a variety of business generation initiatives happening, all of which are encouraging individuals, startups, and more established companies to interact, collaborate, and innovate together. In many instances, these innovation hubs significantly improve the development of technology-based companies who show high growth potential, thanks to their access to resources and opportunities available within the community.

Business incubation is the careful process where an individual or an organization supports the establishment and early growth of an idea or business concept. A business incubator, like Innovate Marquette, provides sponsorship, resources, and opportunities for new businesses to strengthen and move into full fledged business models over time.

Once a business concept has been successfully incubated from its early stages, it moves into its next stage of growth. A business accelerator, like Innovate Marquette, offers access to technology, education, mentorship, and financing opportunities to companies looking to move into the later stages of business.