Skip to main content


Michigan State University Foundation Wins Tibbetts Award

Michigan State University Foundation Wins Tibbetts Award

Posted: Thursday, January 14, 2021
Author: MSU Foundation
Category: Foundation News

MSU Foundation and its family of subsidiaries achieves award for contributions in innovation and entrepreneurship 

EAST LANSING, Mich. –– The Michigan State University Foundation announced today that it is one of the recipients of the Tibbetts Awards given by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).A non-profit organization, the MSU Foundation’s mission supports research, entrepreneurship, economic development, and placemaking activities at Michigan State University (MSU) and beyond.  

The Tibbetts Award 2020 honors outstanding small businesses and individuals who participate in the SBA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Named after Roland Tibbetts, selected organizations and individuals from across the United States receive the award based on promise and models of excellence in high technology.  

“We place a very strong emphasis on startup companies that we’re helping seek SBIR/STTR funding to help bring new technologies to market,” said MSU Foundation Executive Director, David Washburn. “We’ve put resources in place to ensure our entities can compete for and win these awards to help advance the science.”  

The MSU Foundation is made up of four entities: Spartan Innovations, Red Cedar Ventures, Michigan Rise, and University Corporate Research Park (UCRP). Spartan Innovations drives venture creation by working directly with entrepreneurs to develop their ideas, create business plans, and successfully launch highly technical businesses.  

“Our team has been instrumental in supporting high-tech, small businesses originating from MSU,” said Dr. Brad Fingland, Director of Venture Creation, Spartan Innovations. “Since 2018, our startups have won 20 SBIR/STTR awards for a total of $6.6 million.” 

“One example of a higher impact activity is our Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) program,” said Dr. Fingland. “These entrepreneurs’ author and – oftentimes – act as principal investigators in proposals. A recent EIR success story is Dr. Keith Evans, former EIR and current CEO at Great Lakes Crystal Technologies, who was essential in winning five SBIR/STTRs as an EIR.”  

The Tibbetts Award is presented to those who have leveraged SBIR/STTR investment or – as is the case for the MSU Foundation – helped others do so, generating measurable impact that demonstrates the spirit and mission if SBIR/STTR programs. MSU Foundation’s focus on technology commercialization and economic development have been essential in strengthening the role a SBIR/STTR has in building successful small businesses.  

“The SBIR/STTR program is a foundational tool in our efforts to bring groundbreaking technologies from the laboratory to market,” said Washburn. “We are thankful to be included as one of the recipients of the prestigious Tibbetts Award.” 


About the Michigan State University Foundation

Established in 1973 as an independent non-profit, the Michigan State University Foundation is committed to the commercialization of cutting-edge technologies invented by MSU faculty, staff, and students. The MSU Foundation’s overarching goal is to support research, innovation, and entrepreneurship at the University. Additionally, the MSU Foundation operates Spartan Innovations, Red Cedar Ventures, Michigan Rise, and the University Corporate Research Park. More information on the organization’s notable achievements, services, leadership, and history are available at