Since joining the New Economy Initiative team, one of the interesting things I have been introduced to is a group of budding entrepreneurs.  Whether they are connected to NEI’s grant funding in TechTown or emerging on one of the region’s many college campuses, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in southeast Michigan.  The New Economy Initiative was able to help support one such entrepreneur, Tim Marzullo, through the Kauffman Postdoctoral Fellowship program.

As graduate students at the University of Michigan, Tim Marzullo and his colleague Greg Gage, often interacted with schoolchildren during neuroscience outreach events. They were trying to find a low-cost way of teaching those students about the brain. The two developed a bio-technology kit, called the Spikerbox, which is an affordable entry level “Brain Recording Kit” that provides the ability for students to learn about the brain. Now their company, Backyard Brains, is looking to disseminate this affordable device to schools and hobby stores across the country so school children and amateur scientists will have access to similar tools used by neuroscience worldwide to study electrophysiology: the electrical activity of neurons.

Late last year, the PBS Newshour did a story on the “entrepreneurial spirit” of the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan.  One of the first entrepreneurs highlighted in the segment were the guys from Backyard Brains.

The New Economy Initiative is looking forward to highlighting more entrepreneurs throughout the upcoming months. Stay tuned.