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The Next Idea

The Next Idea is Michigan Radio's new project devoted to the new innovations and ideas that will change our state. Each week on this page, Michigan's most creative and visionary leaders will share their best ideas for making innovation happen and how to move the state forward. Starting with essays posted here, the conversations will continue on Stateside with Cynthia Canty and with you on social media and in the comments section below each piece. Share your ideas, tell us about the cool things happening around you and the people we should talk to next.

Support for The Next Idea comes from The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

Click here to learn more about the MEDC

Panelists from left to right: Joe Linstroth, Jeff DeGraff, Eric Thomas, Lauren Bigelow, and Nate Lutz.
April Van Buren / Michigan Radio

For more than three years, The Next Idea has been talking to people who took their creative ideas and turned them into something tangible — a business, an invention, social change. 

Those out of the box ideas are essential to keep moving Michigan’s economy forward. But creative ideas often get stuck in their own regional bubbles.

Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

 

In late November of 2014, Michigan Radio’s Stateside began a series called The Next Idea. With support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and a team that included the University of Michigan’s “Dean of Innovation” Jeff DeGraff and Executive Producer Joe Linstroth, the project’s mission was to focus on innovation, creativity and ideas meant to move Michigan forward.

 

In essays and interviews, we met Michigan inventors and entrepreneurs, teachers, artists, scientists, farmers, business people, experts, and just regular citizens who decided to think outside the box to make their state and their communities better.

Carbon Stories

The Next Idea 

 

After more than three years, our innovation series, The Next Idea, will soon come to an end.
Stateside has been checking in with some of our previous contributors to see how they’re doing. 

WIKIMEDIA

The Next Idea

 

Well, it’s been three years since we started The Next Idea. The aim of the project was to showcase the wide array of amazing people and communities here in Michigan, and how they make innovation happen every day, everywhere, and in every way.

 

Looking back, we have heard the diverse voices and perspectives of artists, educators, community leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, and inventors; the young and old and everyone in between from all the regions of the Great Lakes State.

 

Anyone looking for creative ideas, domain expertise, or best practices for innovation need only search the hundreds of essays and interviews on The Next Idea page. Collectively, they contain a blueprint for moving our state forward.

House Buy Fast (https://housebuyfast.co.uk/) / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The Next Idea

If you’re arrested and charged with a crime, you’ll likely be asked to “post bail.” Bail is the money that a defendant hands over to the court in order to be released from custody until their trial.

So, if you don’t have a huge bank account, where are you supposed to find, say, $50,000? Traditionally, you go to a bail bondsman.

Judd Grutman has a different idea in mind.

Thomas Hawk / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The Next Idea

When it comes to a company’s bottom line, diversity matters. Over the last couple of years on The Next Idea, we've talked with our partner Jeff DeGraff and others about the importance of diversity — in all its forms — when it comes to finding true innovations that change lives and grow businesses.

Today's guests on The Next Idea show this emphasis on diversity isn't just because it's politically correct, or some kumbaya message that we should all get along.

ellenm1 / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The Next Idea

After more than three years on the air, our innovation series, The Next Idea, is coming to a close, so it seems like a good time to check back with one of the many contributors to the series.

Feliciano Paredes is a classic example of an entrepreneur who identifies a need, creates an invention to fill that need, and embarks on the journey to bring that invention to market.

Ian Freimuth / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The Next Idea

The city of Grand Rapids is widely considered a great place to do business, unless you’re black. A 2015 study in Forbes magazine found that it was the second-worst city in the nation in terms of being economically friendly to African-Americans. An organization that works to promote entrepreneurship in Grand Rapids has started a pitch contest that’s meant to encourage startup ideas from everyone — especially people of color.

Carlos Nielbock / Facebook

The Next Idea

You’ve heard of a “hotbed of innovation” – a time and place where money and talent flow towards the creation of new ideas. Sometimes, though, innovation happens during the slowdowns, the dry spells.

Courtesy of Debra Power

It's never too early to plant the seeds of entrepreneurship. Today's curious kid could be tomorrow's entrepreneurial star.

That's the idea behind the new program, Running Start, a four-part series of mentor-led workshops designed for middle and high school students interested in entrepreneurship.

Courtesy of Jalyn-Spencer Harris, Alex Fluegel

The Next Idea

It’s fair to say that mothers need all the help they can get. Family and friends can step in, of course, but what about things like getting lactation advice, finding support groups, programs for kids, and most of all, finding other like-minded mothers?

Some metro areas seem to have lots of resources, but two Detroit residents connected over what they felt was a real lack of community in their city.

Tiny satellites present big opportunity for UP startup

Jan 4, 2018
TACOPHISH05 / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The Next Idea

Innovation centers can come in all shapes, sizes, and locations.

That's the message from Orbion Space Technology, a recent grand prize winner in this year's Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition.

Courtesy of Dr. Curtis L. Lewis

The Next Idea 

The teaching profession in America remains largely white and female. That means young African American males can go through school without ever seeing a teacher who looks like them.

Not only can this mean a lack of black role models, but it also means teaching doesn’t get held up as a profession that’s desirable for black men to pursue.

painting of robot hand and human hand in a handshake
O'Reilly Conferences / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Advances in computer technology are one of many factors that have led to the decline of certain types of jobs. To some extent, technology has always played a role in changing how people work and live: think of the internal combustion engine or factory mechanization.

But today’s guest on The Next Idea wonders if advances in artificial intelligence could be a tipping point into societal unrest, even revolt, because of loss of jobs.

Caribb / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

From the Sears kit houses of the early 1900s to the McMansions of the '90s, the way we heat and cool our homes has mostly followed this formula: Build a space the size you want, then install heating and cooling that will keep that square footage comfortable. 

Ed Schipul / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

It’s fair to say that the automobile has been central to the life of Bob Lutz. He’s 85 now, but before he was semi-retired he held top-tier positions at BMW, Ford, Chrysler and General Motors, where he was vice chairman.

He recently wrote an article for Automotive News with the striking headline, “Kiss the good times goodbye.” It’s about where the world of cars is headed, for better or worse. 

Roymundo VII / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

The Next Idea

Homelessness has a different look in a city than it does in rural areas, and somehow it feels easier to overlook.

Dennis Van Kampen, executive director and CEO of the Grand Rapids nonprofit Mel Trotter Ministries, joined Stateside to talk about a pilot program aimed at helping homeless families in rural Cedar Springs, and take on the problem of rural homelessness more broadly.

Augmented reality app
Courtesy of SpellBound

The Next Idea

The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition announced its list of winners earlier this month.

It's time to meet one of them: Christina York, CEO of SpellBound, joined Stateside to talk about the app that just won her company the People’s Choice Award.

Ford Rouge Factory Tour in Dearborn
Nicole Yeary / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Michiganders know well the effects of manufacturing’s decline in this country. 

But a new report points out ways to ensure manufacturing stays alive here, and with 1-in-7 workers in our state still employed in this sector, it’s a challenge that we need to address. 

The report is called Making it in America: Revitalizing U.S. manufacturing. It was released this month by the McKinsey Global Institute, a leading private-sector think tank.

The report examines what hurt manufacturing in the past, and explores where it might go in the future.

Libraries Without Borders-US

The Next Idea

Pretend it’s Saturday. 

You and the kids are running errands, including a several-hour stop at the laundromat. They are bored, you are bored.... What if you could use that washer time for something like education? What if your laundromat had the services of a library? 

Well, over the summer, this started happening in Detroit. 

Hillary Miller

The Next Idea

FEMMES, Females Excelling More in Math, Engineering and Science, is a group of University of Michigan graduate students and faculty who are working to get girls in the 4th through 6th grades excited about science and to get them thinking about going into STEM fields. They do this through hands-on activities and presentations that show science in action.

We reported on FEMMES back in 2014 and decided to check back in three years later. Hillary Miller, a PhD candidate in cell and molecular biology at the University of Michigan and a part of FEMMES, joined The Next Idea to provide an update.

clown troupe
Courtesy of Gwendolyn Hopkins

The Next Idea

Bullying in Michigan and around the country is a serious problem – one that parents, educators and others are striving to solve. One Michigan college is offering a unique approach to this serious problem.

Mott Community College’s Honors College is home to a group of students who transform themselves into clowns and reach out to school children with an anti-bullying message. 

Courtesy of Jeanane Charara / Michigan Science Center

The Next Idea

If you're a certain age, you probably remember watching educational films in science class on a noisy projector.

Howard County Library System Follow / FLICKR - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

The key to a successful future for Michigan includes turning out graduates with skill sets needed to fill the jobs of the future. It also includes increasing access to postsecondary education for low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students.

The upcoming Michigan Pre-College and Youth Outreach Conference will explore these challenges, and will focus on the urgency of college access.

Digital_Third_Eye / Flickr - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Next Idea

One of the central challenges in Detroit’s revival: making sure that all boats rise. That good things are happening for long-time Detroiters, not just the newcomers and new businesses setting up in the city.

Capital Impact Partners created its Equitable Development Initiative after realizing how little of its money went to projects led by minority developers. The program is designed to bring more minority developers into Detroit’s revitalization.

Sunflowers on the shoulder of a highway
Jocelyn Hall / MDOT

The Next Idea

Scientists have known for a while that America’s bee population is in trouble — some types are even ending up on the endangered species list. Pollinator insects like bees are crucial to food production, and, in agricultural states like Michigan, keeping that population alive and healthy is a big deal.

A small but colorful pilot project at the Michigan Department of Transportation aims to provide some late season meals for those hard-working bees. 

michigan state capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Next Idea

“There ought to be a law.” It’s easier said than done.

The truth is that making policy is an incredibly complex process. For each bill there are multiple stakeholders, and they all demand different things from the outcome.

Teachers can illustrate that complexity for their students through role-playing simulations around policymaking, but even simulations can be too much for one instructor to organize.

Courtesy of Scott Page

The Next Idea

Let’s say your boss wants you to assemble a team to work on a complex problem at your company, or your agency, or your non-profit.

You think about your best and brightest people with some knowledge of the problem, you buy some bagels and coffee, and get together, right?

Turns out, you might not be approaching this kind of problem solving in the best way.

Takashi Yamamiya / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

You've probably heard of One Thousand and One Nights. It's a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales in Arabic from what's known as an Islamic Golden Age collected over many centuries. 

The English-language version is The Arabian Nights.

Something else stemming from that bygone era is coming to the Michigan Science Center — an exhibition called 1001 Inventions: Untold Stories from a Golden Age of Innovation.

mollyali / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Next Idea

Former AOL CEO and Revolution LLC founder Steve Case's "Rise of the Rest" will make its second pit stop in Ann Arbor on Wednesday.

“It’s really emerging as a strong startup city," Case said. "It’s sort of the center of gravity in terms of a lot of the innovation in Michigan and a lot of people are beginning to understand there are great startups there.”

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