Tech unveils ‘Innovation Shore’ brand

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Glenn Mroz, president of Michigan Technological University, discusses the Innovation Shore concept at last week’s Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance meeting.

HOUGHTON — Glenn Mroz has heard the wisecracks about snow in August.

As president of Michigan Technological University, he has tried to push past that and make people aware of the thriving high-tech cluster involving local companies and researchers, be it GS Engineering or the Keweenaw Research Center.

Now, drawing on hubs such as Raleigh-Durham’s Research Triangle, Tech is seeking a branding effort that connotes “engineers work here” but not “engineers came up with the name.”

“We thought, ‘What do we have more of that nobody else has?’ and its shore,” Mroz said.

Enter Innovation Shore. Mroz spoke about the campaign along with John Lehman, associate vice president for enrollment and university relations, and Ian Repp, Tech’s marketing and communications director, at last week’s Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance meeting.

Tech began with rolling out the Innovation Shore term in advertisements and messaging to introduce people to the concept, Repp said.

A booklet Tech has taken to Mackinac Island and Lansing describes the university and provides a framework for the Innovation Shore.

“It’s a soft sell, but it’s highly visual and makes that case,” Repp said.

The term is also being introduced in recent university news stories regarding the presidential and dean searches.

The message has also been amplified through profiles of the area in Crain’s Business and mentions in national publications such as The Economist and Modern Healthcare. U.S. Sen. Gary Peters also used the Innovation Shore framework while discussing the activity at Tech in a speech.

Tech also received a $50,000 University of Michigan grant earmarked for areas that have seen declines in defense manufacturing-related support. Through that, Lehman said, the university worked with The Marketing Department to assemble a toolkit that will let other high-tech entrepreneurs in the community use the Innovation Shore messaging for their own purposes.

For instance, companies could tie in to the Innovation Shore brand in a sales presentation, he said.

“I believe that every company and every organization in the area, this is part of their story,” said Karyn Olsson, CEO of The Marketing Department.

Olsson is working with Jim Baker, who monitors trademark activity for Tech, to strike a balance between maintaining the integrity of the trademark while still encouraging others to use it, Repp said.

While Innovation Shore is tied to the area, there are no specific boundaries.

“We’ve never had a map in anything we’ve established,” Repp said.