Research & Engagement


The University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Center for Innovation Research — iLabs — is housed within the University’s College of Business. iLabs was established as a research center in 2006 and has since dedicated research and engagement efforts to advancing the understanding of corporate, entrepreneurial, and institutional innovation and its impact on economic development within the State of Michigan. Since its inception in 2006, iLabs has worked with over 120 students and over 20 faculty members on numerous projects including:

  • The eCities Project
    This annual project examines the municipal-level factors that cultivate entrepreneurship and encourage economic development. The focus is on entrepreneurship because of its importance to expansion and diversification of regional economies and small businesses’ impact on job creation. The primary purpose of eCities is to help communities benchmark their efforts and learn from the best practices in other communities. To date the project has had over 200 local governments across the State of Michigan participate.
  • The Michigan Technology Climate Survey
    This annual survey seeks to better understand the opinions of high-growth and technology executives regarding Michigan's business climate. On this project, iLabs has worked with numerous regional and state-wide partners to engage business leaders and inform state-level policy.
  • The Alumni Migration Survey
    This project is a collaborative effort between iLabs, the Detroit Regional Chamber, and the President’s Council of State Universities of Michigan. The goal is to understand more about the perceptions, decisions, and plans of recent college graduates. Key findings will be reported and can inform policy involving the retention of college graduates. 
  • The Non-Profit Needs Analysis
    This ongoing project is an effort to support non-profit organizations in the metro-Detroit area and is sponsored by the Ford Motor Fund. Through this project an iLabs team, comprised of faculty and students, is developing a tool to assess impact and performance indicators using existing non-profit data. The goals of this tool are to help non-profits by assembling mission units and conversational data regarding their performance to help them promote their efforts to funders, as well as external and internal stakeholders.
  • The Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) Initiative
    This project was a major study to understand young adult’s interest and likelihood of returning to college and was part of a $5 million WIRED (Workforce Innovation for Regional Economic Development) grant from the Department of Labor.
  • The Michigan Innovation Index
    The index is a quarterly measure of innovation activity within Michigan’s economy and was initially formed via a partnership with Crain’s Detroit Business.

The Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Education

In 2008, the UM-Dearborn College of Business was selected by the Michigan Council for Economic Education (MCEE) to house a Center of Economic and Entrepreneurial Education (CEEE).

The purpose of the CEEE is to promote economic, entrepreneurial and financial literacy, education and programming throughout the University, K-12 education and the community.

CEEE established eAcademy, a two-week entrepreneurial immersion boot camp for area high school students. Other CEEE initiatives include the Money Smart  program developed in conjunction with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (Detroit Branch), professional development courses for high school teachers in economics and a guest speaker series.

Business Experimental Learning Lab (BELL)

The BELL (Business Experiential Learning Lab), is a high-tech classroom with opportunities for hands-on training in an environment similar to what students find in the business world. BELL simulates a real-world trading room – complete with a crawling stock ticker, a six-time zone world clock and an eight-foot data market wall with information streamed from Wall Street. Thirty-two workstations with industry-leading software allow students to create trading simulations and build a “portfolio” they can evaluate, using real-world financial data.