International Business Innovation Association’s ICBI37 puts economic development in Detroit on the world map

In April, Detroit hosted entrepreneurs and innovators from around the world for the 37th International Conference on Business Incubation (ICBI37), held by the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA). During this four-day conference, representatives from Wayne State University and TechTown Detroit were happy to immerse attendees in the work being done to create economic prosperity in the city. 

InBIA is a global nonprofit that leads entrepreneur support programs in 30 countries around the world. Serving entrepreneurship centers, program managers, directors and policymakers, InBIA works to “help communities enable their entrepreneurs to transform their dreams into innovative businesses that make global prosperity a reality.” 

Like InBIA, Wayne State’s Office of Economic Development (OED) and TechTown aim to provide entrepreneurial programs and initiatives that meet the needs of the community it serves. By collaborating with various community partners, including philanthropic and corporate donors, OED and TechTown work to stimulate economic growth in Wayne State’s Midtown neighborhood and across Detroit. 

“Wayne State’s approach to its economic impact work — and the structure of the Office of Economic Development, specifically — is unique compared to other InBIA member institutions that may not elevate that work as prominently,” says Kelly Kozlowski, assistant vice president of economic development at Wayne State and chief operating officer at TechTown.

 Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist III was a keynote speaker at the 37th International Conference on Business Incubation (ICBI37), held in Detroit in April.

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist III was a keynote speaker at the 37th International Conference on Business Incubation (ICBI37), held in Detroit in April.

ICBI37 took place April 23-26 in Detroit. This annual conference brings together professionals to share entrepreneurial support, discuss best practices, learn about current trends and explore new strategies. More than 70 speakers shared their expertise at this year’s conference. 

Detroit being the chosen city to host ICBI37 was monumental, as it helped solidify the city’s place in economic development on an international scale. Just last year, Startup Genome — a worldwide policy advisory and research organization for public and private organizations — recognized Detroit as the No. 1 emerging startup ecosystem globally in its 2022 Global Startup Ecosystem Report. This report uses data from more than three million companies across more than 280 entrepreneurial innovation systems to provide a comprehensive review of the startup world.  

Ned Staebler, vice president for economic development at Wayne State and president and CEO at TechTown, was a featured speaker during ICBI37. Staebler, along with two other speakers, was part of the panel “Achieving ESO Sustainability Through Facility and Revenue Strategies” on April 24. Staebler brought his years of experience overseeing economic development in higher education, nonprofit, and private sector environments to discuss sustainable strategies for generating revenue, facility considerations, staffing, pricing, resource sharing and partnering. 

An interior shot of the Industry Innovation Center
ICBI37 attendees received a tour of the Industry Innovation Center and were later welcomed back there for the Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest by TechTown’s Hatch Off.

Later that day, TechTown hosted around 100 ICBI37 attendees for a tour of the nonprofit’s facilities and Wayne State’s Industry Innovation Center (I2C). Attendees learned about the activities supported in each building, including events, programs and lab, coworking and office space.  

“In addition to the tour, Ned delivered a presentation detailing TechTown's programs and services while also highlighting the ways that both TechTown and Wayne State benefit from partnership,” Kozlowski says. “Metrics related to TechTown's client diversity were of particular interest [among ICBI37 attendees].”  

TechTown invited conference attendees back to I2C on April 26 for the annual Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest by TechTown Hatch Off. This allowed them to connect with other phenomenal entrepreneurs in the city and learn more about how the nonprofit provides funding for small business owners to make their storefront dreams a reality.  

It was an amazing opportunity for the city to host InBIA members for ICBI37 and show industry leaders why Detroit deserves its designator as the top emerging startup ecosystem in the world.  

← Back to listing