Inforum Center for Leadership Receives $700,000 Grant From MEDC 21st Century Jobs Fund

Funding Helps Bring to Michigan World-Class Programs to Assist Women Entrepreneurs

DETROIT AND GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Aug. 5, 2011 /PRNewswire/ —  Inforum Center for Leadership (ICL), the research and education arm of Inforum, Michigan‘s leading network for professional women, was awarded $700,000 from the Michigan Economic Development Corp’s (MEDC) 21st Century Jobs Fund. The funding will support the implementation of two programs focused on high-growth women entrepreneurs: ACTiVATE®, a technology commercialization curriculum, and Astia, a global network of mentors and investors.

“As Michigan’s economy continues to transform, we’re going to need all hands on deck,” said Terry Barclay , president and CEO of Inforum and Inforum Center for Leadership. “Broad based research shows that programs like these achieve more than just increasing the representation of women leaders in high-growth start-ups. They actually unlock significant potential to create economic wealth. Women are increasingly achieving academic success. As they demonstrate greater levels of entrepreneurial passion, they are becoming one of the fastest-growing demographics starting and leading small businesses. ACTiVATE® and Astia harness the intellectual capital of these women grow beyond microenterprise and lifestyle businesses. We are delighted to bring both these programs together for the first time in Michigan.”

The University of Michigan-Dearborn is a lead partner supporting the implementation of this entrepreneurial programming, providing not only access to the University assets but also the guidance and leadership of Dr. Kim Schatzel, dean of the College of Business.

“We are honored to partner with Inforum on this important initiative to help educate and enhance the skills of Michigan residents needed to transform Michigan‘s economy,” said Kim Schatzel , dean, UM-Dearborn College of Business, “UM-Dearborn has developed a curriculum for our students that is not only rooted in the fundamentals of business but embraces and teaches the importance of creativity and entrepreneurship that is necessary to synthesize solutions, identify opportunities, and laterally think. Our College’s philosophy will complement the goals and objectives of the MEDC and Inform.”

Leading ICL’s new entrepreneurship initiative will be Kapila Viges , who has been named executive director for entrepreneurial strategies. Viges, who has been serving ICL as an advisor since April, formerly was director of entrepreneurship and innovation at Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

“Both ACTiVATE and Astia have demonstrated track records,” Viges said. “ACTiVATE participants secure an average of $500,000 in initial seed capital and 60 percent of Astia’s portfolio receives funding within one year of participating in an Astia Investor Forum. As we integrate these programs into Michigan‘s already strong base of entrepreneurial support infrastructure, we are excited to create local, state, national and global linkages. “


ICL is now recruiting for both programs. Astia’s next on-ramp event will be held Oct. 10-15 in Silicon Valley and ICL is actively recruiting Michigan women entrepreneurs to apply. ACTiVATE will begin local sessions in January 2012.  Candidates interested in either program should contact Viges at


ABOUT THE 21ST CENTURY JOBS FUND: The 21st Century Jobs Fund, a 10-year initiative begun in 2005, is a Michigan Strategic Fund program that is administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to accelerate the growth and diversification of Michigan‘s economy. The MEDC, a public-private partnership between the state and local communities, promotes smart economic growth by developing strategies and providing services to create and retain good jobs and a high quality of life. For more information on the MEDC’s initiatives and programs, visit the website at

ABOUT ACTiVATE®: The original ACTiVATE® program was created at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. It is a yearlong, applied, entrepreneurship training program focused on teaching women with some technical or business experience to create technology companies based on inventions from the region’s research institutions and federal laboratories. The training program follows a proven methodology for starting technology companies and does so in a supportive environment consisting of other aspiring women entrepreneurs, instructors experienced in entrepreneurship, advisors from the local business community and an ever-growing, national network of program graduates. The program is structured to be well-suited for women who are working full-time and have other commitments during the day. For more information, visit

ABOUT ASTIA: Founded in 1999 in Silicon Valley, Astia is an innovative global not-for-profit organization that propels women’s full participation as entrepreneurs and leaders in high-growth businesses, fueling innovation and driving economic growth. Astia offers programs for high-growth start-ups that deliver results. Designed for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs who understand the value of extraordinary relationships and believe in the give-back, Astia connects entrepreneurs to investors, industry leaders, advisors, and service providers encircling the entrepreneur with a comprehensive value-added network. Astia’s role is to facilitate access to the proven pathways to success and deliver results. For more information, visit

ABOUT UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN–DEARBORN: Founded in 1959 with a gift of just over 200 acres of land and $6.5 million from the Ford Motor Company, University of Michigan-Dearborn is a metropolitan university serving southeastern Michigan, committed to excellence rooted in strong academics, innovative research and programming and civic engagement. The University has nearly 8,900 students pursuing more than 90 bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees in liberal arts and sciences, engineering, business and education. A top-ranked university with a faculty devoted to teaching, and students committed to achievement, UM-Dearborn has been shaped by its history of partnering with local leaders and communities, and is committed to finding solutions for the challenges that face the region.

ABOUT INFORUM CENTER FOR LEADERSHIP: ICL, the research and education arm of Inforum, is a private, non-profit 501(c)3 organization established to promote the advancement of women in the workplace by providing education to and about women in leadership positions, business and other professions; provide skill-building, leadership training, mentoring and coaching; conduct and disseminate research regarding the development of women as leaders; and strengthen the network of women business leaders and provide access to community and business leadership opportunities. ICL has a strong track record of implementing first-rate leadership development programs for women in Michigan. More than 800 women have completed ICL’s acclaimed Executive Leadership Program since it was introduced in 2002. For a video about the benefits of ICL’s Executive Leadership Program, click here:

ABOUT INFORUM: Inforum is Michigan‘s leading business forum for women, with more than 1,800 members from a cross-section of Michigan‘s business community. The mission of the organization is to strengthen the business environment by creating opportunities for women to lead and succeed. Founded as the Women’s Economic Club in 1962 in Detroit, Inforum has affiliates in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Lansing, Michigan. For more information, visit or call 877.633.3500.

SOURCE Inforum Center for Leadership