Entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan takes many forms. From launching a startup to supporting entrepreneurs, students experience the depth and breadth of innovation at the Zell Lurie Institute. Whatever their desired career path, students gain transferable skills through our start–invest–lead framework.

The Zell Lurie Institute serves students from all 19 schools and colleges at the University of Michigan – seeking different career paths and developmental goals.

Exploring entrepreneurship, investing and innovation

Seeking a career in innovation, entrepreneurship or investing

Launching a new venture while learning a degree

Building transferrable skills valued in any industry

The Zell Lurie Institute provides students with the knowledge, skills, and motivation to achieve entrepreneurial success in a variety of settings. As students are guided through the process of new venture creation, they gain transferable skills valued in any industry.

Zell Lurie Launch + Learns

Through entrepreneurial office hours, the team at Zell Lurie is available to advise on business concepts, course selection, program issues, student-led fund questions, or any other entrepreneurial concerns that students or alumni face. Office hours are made available throughout the academic year.

Michigan Business Challenge (MBC)

a campus-wide, multi-round business plan competition where student teams have the opportunity to win cash prizes totaling over $100,000, gain feedback from leaders in the business community, and expand their business network.

Pinkert Healthcare Accelerator

Provides grant funding and support from experienced faculty and mentors to help students realize their vision for reimagining healthcare. The program supports student ventures to create value by increasing healthcare quality and access, reducing costs, and making patient experiences better.

Five Ideas

A design thinking workshop focused on finding entrepreneurial solutions to common challenges women face. Explore human experiences, gain ideation skills to craft impactful solutions, and empower yourself and others to take action. Together we will make the world five ideas stronger.

Startup Grant Programs

Composed of the Mayleben Venture Shaping grants and the Eugene Applebaum Dare to Dream grant program, moves University of Michigan students through the business creation process by offering startup workshops and awarding $300-$5,000 in grants to individuals and/or student teams.

Zell Entrepreneurs

An elite program designed to support students dedicated to working on their businesses full-time upon graduation. Students selected to participate in this immersive, year-long program will receive support, mentorship, resources, and funding to get their ventures launch ready.

Zell Lab for Technologies

The design and build studio for U-M student and alumni entrepreneurs. ZLT connects UI/UX design interns to startups to design, build, and test technology products through highly personalized coaching and mentorship.

Customer Acquisition Program

A 12-week program designed to help student and alumni startups accelerate and optimize their customer growth and potential revenue drivers. Potential topics include website sales conversion, engaging influencers, pitching press, optimizing digital ads, and more. The techniques introduced in the program are designed to not require any cash expenditures, but rather your flexibility, creativity, and time.

The world of venture investing operates on a different plane than conventional financing and requires special preparation. Our students engage in real investment deals and learn from leaders in the venture capital ecosystem.

Michigan Investment Challenge

Michigan Investment Challenge (MIC) is an investor competition where students play the role of venture capital firms. Student teams evaluate real startup investment options presented by motivated entrepreneurs.

Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund

The Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund (ZLCF) is a student-run early-stage investment fund with the primary goal of identifying promising young startups in the University of Michigan community and surrounding areas and helping them build great companies. As an early-stage fund, ZLCF is often one of the first institutional investors in its portfolio companies.

Wolverine Venture Fund

The Wolverine Venture Fund was founded in 1997. It grew out of a fund established in 1988 by the Regents of the University of Michigan for donors interested in contributing to high-risk, high-return investments. WVF’s mission is to enrich student development by providing education through hands-on experience while acheiving returns on capital. WVF has invested in 30 companies and increased its assets from $2M to $7M through M&A and IPO exits.

Social Venture Fund

The Social Venture Fund (SVF) at the University of Michigan invests in and supports innovative companies that place social or environmental impact at the heart of their business model. SVF provides an unparalleled action-based learning experience, which places equal importance on maximizing financial returns and socially/environmentally-driven venture investing and entrepreneurship.

Zell Early Stage Fund

The Zell Early-Stage Fund’s first investment was $150,000 in Admetsys, a medical device company that has developed an artificial pancreas to help monitor insulin levels for hospital and surgical care. Admetsys helps minimize hospital complications, reduce ICU stay time, and save lives from quick glycemic measurements and calculated insulin administration.

Zell Founders Fund

The Zell Founders Fund is a $10M seed fund, managed by Stewart Thornhill, Executive Director of the Zell Lurie Institute, and an investment review advisory committee comprised of four Michigan Ross students, one student from each of the four remaining ZLI funds. The committee evaluates and invests in extraordinary student entrepreneurs whose business venture needs a helping hand to move from idea to profitability.

Innovation is critical to solving complex challenges and leading organizational change. The Zell Lurie Institute engages students through real-world experiences leading entrepreneurial organizations.

Product, Innovation, and Prototyping Studio

The Product, Innovation, and Prototyping Studio (PIPS) is designed to give students and alumni hands-on experience in developing a new product idea, defining a minimum viable product, building and testing a prototype of the product, and determining how to launch the product and acquire customers. The program is designed to provide an end-to-end experience for those considering a career in corporate innovation or product management.


The internship program at the Zell Lurie Institute helps startup companies and venture capital firms hire University of Michigan students for a 12-week hands-on work experience. This program gives students the opportunity to develop entrepreneurial skills while accelerating the advancement of the host company or their own venture.

Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition

This elite program is designed to provide support to second year MBA students who are seeking to search for and acquire a business upon graduation. This can be accomplished via the search fund model, as an independent sponsor, through a family office, or otherwise.


The Zell Lurie Institute scholarship program, established in 2003, is a merit-based scholarship program for returning graduate students (or part-time MBA students with at least 30 completed credits) and for rising undergraduate junior and senior students.

Silicon Valley Experience

Gain connections to some of Silicon Valley’s leading founders, CEOs, executives, and investors, all of whom hail from the University of Michigan. The Silicon Valley Experience through the Zell Lurie Institute connects rising U-M juniors and seniors and returning grad students with innovative entrepreneurial and venture capital companies for a week-long immersive experience.