Invent@NMU Founding Director David Ollila was invited to Detroit to participate in a May 11 panel presentation delivered to two high-ranking dignitaries from China. The presentation was titled “Michigan’s Leading Innovation Programs” and Invent@NMU was one of only five entities selected by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to be featured.
The Chinese guests are signing a sister state-province agreement between Michigan and Guangdong, the country’s most populous and wealthy province. They also wanted to explore how Michigan’s traditional manufacturing economy is using continuous innovation to reinvent itself. The officials are: Hu Chunhua, a member of the Central Committee for the Chinese Communist Party and adviser to President Xi Jinping; and Xu Qin, mayor of Shenzhen, arguably China’s “silicon valley,” with a population of about 11 million.
“To be called to participate in such a prestigious event with presenters of that caliber speaks volumes about what we have achieved at NMU,” Ollila said. “It also lends greater credibility to the Invent program by showing it’s treated with the same level of respect, encouragement and collaboration as these other agencies. I talked about how, in a rural Michigan community like Marquette, the university can play a significant role in driving statewide innovation.”
Other speakers joining Ollila addressed Fast Forward Medical Innovation at the University of Michigan, the Gordie Howe International Crossing and the state’s aerospace and automotive industries. Their presentations were translated in real time to the Chinese officials.
“There were about 40 people in the Chinese delegation and they brought their own news agency with them to cover the multi-day itinerary,” Ollila said. “Northern might be mentioned in the coverage when it is broadcast in China, so that would be great international exposure as well.”
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