Innovation Week Feb. 21-23 at NMU

Innovation Week promo graphic

Innovate Marquette SmartZone (Innovate Marquette) and SISU: The Innovation Institute at Northern Michigan University (NMU) have announced dates and programming for the second annual Innovation Week. The professional development conference brings together thought leaders, creatives and entrepreneurs to inspire, enlighten and spark curiosity.

Building on the success of the first Innovation Week, the event will feature dynamic keynote speakers, unique “Innovation Quests” that will allow attendees to directly interact with experts in the local community, an exciting pitch competition and opportunities for networking across various industries. The conference will take place Feb. 21-23, and most programming will take place at Forest Roberts Theatre on the campus of NMU.

Tickets are available now for purchase at General ticket sales are available at the door Feb. 21-23. 

“Innovation Week is an exciting opportunity to bring together a dedicated group of innovators and disruptors looking to improve their organizations, industries and the world around them,” said Joe Thiel, CEO of Innovate Marquette. “Building on last year's success, the second annual Innovation Week will feature more impactful programming, increased engagement among attendees through curated networking events and innovation quests that highlight the beauty and unlimited potential of the area we call home.”


Innovation Week will feature three acclaimed keynote speakers who will bring their expertise and passion to the conference through engaging presentations:

Molly Kawahata, founder of Systemic Impact Strategies, former White House Climate Adviser and subject of the Patagonia film, “The Scale of Hope”

An alumna of the Obama White House and Google Energy Team, Kawahata has advised organizational and individual leaders on climate communications and advocacy strategy. She communicates through a variety of media to assist organizations and industries improve their communications and framing, focus their work on systemic climate action, engage more effectively with the public and work to make the climate movement more inclusive. 

Jonathon Brown, Chief Growth Officer, Trend Hunter

Brown guides the vision of Trend Hunter, the world's largest trend spotting platform. Helping global Fortune 500s to build research and training programs, he's driven his own "crash course" in corporate innovation and plucked the best practices for the benefit of the audiences he speaks to. As an event emcee and international business keynotes speaker, Jonathon is renowned for his magnetic delivery, executive presence and divergent storytelling style. His best known keynotes include "How to Innnovate like a Rap Star," "Top Innovators in Business" and "Innovation Tactics from Fortune 500s."

Scott Kuzdzal, Ph.D., Executive Vice President of New Strategy Development, Shimadzu Scientific Instruments

Kuzdzal received a Ph.D. from the University of California at Riverside. He served as a postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he co-founded the Center for Biomarker Discovery & Translation. Kuzdzal has a strong medicinal and clinical chemistry background and he has directed Toxicology and Therapeutic Drug Monitoring Labs at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. He currently serves as the Vice President of New Strategy and the Lab Director of the Amyloid MS Service Lab at Shimadzu Scientific Instruments.

“Through extraordinary keynotes, thought-provoking programming and a first-hand look at the Upper Peninsula through the lens of multiple industries, this year's Innovation Week is a must-attend for anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit,” said Bill Digneit, director of SISU: The Innovation Institute at NMU. “We are excited to once again partner with Innovate Marquette to bring this conference to Northern's campus and the entire Upper Peninsula community.”

Curated Innovation Quests over the three-day conference will allow participants to connect with leaders in the Upper Peninsula across various industries including:

  • Outdoor Innovation

  • Creative Technology

  • Sustainability

  • Artificial Intelligence

The second annual Innovation Week conference will include an all-new element: pitch competitions that will provide founders and emerging entrepreneurs the opportunity to access capital. Featuring two tracks — “The Big Pitch” and the “Outdoor Innovation Pitch” — participants will compete in a Shark Tank-style competition for the chance to win thousands of dollars in prizes. 

“The Big Pitch” is presented in collaboration with the NMU College of Business. Contestants, who are NMU students, will seek to win cash prizes and consultation packages to help get their business ideas off the ground.

Participants of the “Outdoor Innovation Pitch” will compete for the chance to receive investments from the MI Outdoor Innovation Fund. Powered by InvestUP, the Fund invests in Michigan-based startups innovating new technology in outdoor recreation. 

For more information, please visit Further announcements, including an event itinerary, will be made available in the coming weeks.

Prepared by Innovate Marquette. 

Prepared By

Categories: Around NMU, Strategic Plan