June 2016

Online Retreat Review: Can’t Wait for Next Year!

Did you attend the Online Retreat for  The SearchLite Innovator-in-Residence Community?

I am sorry that you missed out on a lot of fun and …maybe gifts and food…but luckily, you will not miss out on the information.

Let’s see what happened…

Our attendees were divided into  three teams: Royal (Real) Black Dolphins, The Super Se7en, and The Nomads. Each team had to come up with individual themes prior to the retreat. Their themes definitely displayed some talent! Here are their posters. Some of our special guests included Evelyn, who is a business transition coach, and Martha who stayed up in her PJs,  just to attend our retreat!

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Guess who won the best poster?

Scott helped everyone review the Innovators-in-Residence Program.

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and MJ explained the rules of the new Reward Points System. You may read the information on our IIR Info page (p/w: TSLIIR).

Then, Scott continued on to announce The SearchLite’s new business model with three new focus areas : Connected Factories, Connected Cars, and Connected Health. The first report of Connected Factories industry will be released on July 27. Keep an eye out for it! For the new business model we will have more traditional titles such as Project Leader and Research Analyst. These will also be paid positions. More details are to come once the system goes into effect.

Meanwhile, if you are interested in or have backgrounds related to the three topics, let us know. This might be another exciting opportunity for you!!

In the Lucky Wheel session, the Super Se7en, who won the best poster, was not so lucky as the  Royal (Real) Black Dolphins and The Nomads caught up.

Games were next on the agenda and the determining factor of the winners came down to  Jeopardy!. The categories included IIR Program, Value Proposition Design, The Searchlite and Other Trivia.The online IIRs and the IIRs in office showed great team effort. Yan Chang and Gautam answered questions for the Royal black Dolphins, Martha and Tao took the lead for The Super Seven team and Jayshree and Peng from The Nomads didn’t back down! Super Se7en bravely chose several of the hardest questions and answered them correctly, which made them the champions of the Online Retreat.

Online Retreat 2016-Best Team.001

And the moment we’ve all been waiting for, the Awards portion of the retreat capped off the event. Drum roll please… Marta won the “Christopher Columbus Award” for her excellent performance as an IIR for a year and half all the way in Portugal and she referred two IIRs, Juliana and Telmo.

Yan Dong won the “Jane Goodall Award” for his  splendid work in the field research for the  HALO project.

And Tao Wen won the “Dog The Bounty Hunter Award” for landing the most interviews amongst all IIRs.

Although only a few names were recognized we truly would like to thank you for all of your hard work! We hope you gained a valuable experience from your experience as an IIR. .

Thanks to everyone who joined the Online Retreat. You should have received a Starbucks Gift Card in your inbox.

We would like to thank all of the IIRs who have collaboratively worked in the projects to achieve outstanding works, especially the new members who have brought a great level of enthusiasm and the old heads who provide the ‘wisdom’!

So, all that is left to say is, thanks to everyone who made this another incredible year in The SearchLite history. The Innovators-in-Residence Community is an amazing family. Let’s be thankful that we are all part of it. And be sure to remember we will have another retreat next year. Mark your calendars in advance!


(Edited by Prianca, Hui and Christy)

University of Michigan Mechanical Engineering Career Development Event: “Mechanical Engineers Need Soft Skills also”

June 20, 2016 is a date to remember in the history of The SerachLite’s Innovator-in-Residence Program, because it is the first time that we held an event at the Department of Mechanical Engineering in our own backyard at the University of Michigan.
About 15 Mechanical Engineer PhD students attended the event. Four outstanding alumni, Katherine Avery, Laura Wojcik, Michelle Callaway, and Szabolcs Sovenyi, joined the discussion  as well.

UMMU Event

Professor Katsuo Kurabayashi kicked off the event by showing many successful alumni, who transitioned from academia to industry. The SearchLite Innovator-in-Residence Program is a great opportunity for graduate students to have a taste of industry by participating in hands-on real projects.

UM ME Career Dev.001

Scott Phillips, CEO of The SearchLite, challenged the students regarding their current understanding of the industries which align with their areas of research.. He then explained   what The SearchLite is, who The SearchLite’s clients are, and the methodology The SearchLite uses to conduct Customer Discovery. Lastly, Scott used three real cases as examples to demonstrate the work at The SearchLite.

UMME Event

During the final open discussion, a student said he just wanted to be an engineer, and wondered if the business skills would be useful? Both Michelle (General Motors) and Katherine (Ford) responded quickly and stated that if you work for a company you have to deal with a lot of things besides engineering, so the soft skills are extremely useful.
When in a company or an industry, it is easy to overestimate the importance of one’s product or service. That is why they hire companies like The SearchLite, to provide different perspectives. When we are students, it easy to underestimate the importance of soft skills that are not clearly aligned with our majors, but those are the skills that will  make you stand out. As the alumni all said, “Mechanical Engineers Need Soft Skills too”.

May, 2016 Newsletter


http://paperbomb.com/wp-json/oembed/1.0/embed?url=http://paperbomb.com/home/attachment/brudenell The SearchLite

robaxin canada The Community Monthly Newsletter, May. ’16

Did you know that the first permanent English Settlement in Jamestown, VA was established in May? Although The SearchLite is not founding countries, check out how we are expanding our TSL community in this month’s newsletter!

Interested in who’s already a part of the IIR Community see url Check out our members!

*Feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone that might be interested! We would also encourage you to share our monthly newsletters on your social media platforms so that others may become aware of the IIR Community.*

As always, please feel free to come to me with any questions or concerns you may have (csong@thesearchlite.com).

– Christy Song
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A Bio-based Field Trip to Michigan State University


We all fill up our tanks with gas on a regular basis and we see 87, 89, and 93, but have you ever noticed that many gas stations provide E-85 fuel,which is supplemented with biomass-derived ethanol; You might have also missed that even plastic bags, paint, printer ink and seat components in our cars are now also made of bio-based chemicals. However, what are bio-based products?

Bio-based products are made of non-food, non-feed agricultural products, which harness the solar energy and photosynthesis for industrial materials, consumer products and fuel energy. The importance of bio-based products in the U.S. and the global economy is expected to increase tremendously over time.

The SearchLite is collaborating with Omni Tech International on a this exiciting  to assist companies at different stages to understand the current trends and needs of bio-based materials. Although this is not an easy task, we luckily are surrounded by many  successful researchers and entrepreneurs at universities close by. Lee Walko from Omni Tech and Scott Phillips, MJ Zhang and Hui Yang from The SearchLIte decided to meet with Professor Ramani Narayan, who is a distinguished professor in the Department of Chemical & BioChemical Engineering in Michigan State University.

Professor Narayan’s  work covers an array of topic areas including: biodegradable plastics, engineering and design of natural-synthetic polymer composite system, and biofiber reinforced thermoplastic composites, to name a few. Professor Narayan is also  a successful entrepreneur. He has developed poly(lactic acid) materials technology and conducted engineering scale-up studies for Cargill Inc..  The technology is currently being commercialized by NatureWorks LLC. Beyond these technologies, he has also developed and commercialized other technologies, such as biofoam sheets for cushion packaging and biodegradable and recycling friendly starch based nanoparticle adhesives. In addition to his entrepreneurial accomplishments, Professor Narayan is also involved with setting up a biorefinery business with Zeeland and a Michigan agribusiness company to produce bio-based and value-added products. His students, Sayli Bote, Hugh MacDowell and Preetam Giri, walked us through their most up-to-date posters and introduced the new research findings to us.

Preetam Giri is presenting his poster.

Preetam Giri is presenting his poster with Saly Bote and Hugh MacDowell. From left to right: Hui Yang, Preetam Giri, Sayli Bote, Professor Ramani Narayan, Lee Walko, Scott Phillips, Hugh MacDowell.

Professor Narayan is also excited to open a class soon and invite The SearchLite to give a few lectures. Both of us are enthusiastic about sharing our knowledge on technology transfer and entrepreneurship to the local community, such as the professors and students at Michigan State University.

Katy Luchini Colbry, the Director of Graduate Initiatives, participated in the meeting also. Katy is working with MJ to coordinate a student workshop on campus in the near future.
Professor Narayan’s lab is located in the Michigan Biotechnology Institute, which helps organizations quickly and cost-effectively test out technologies and decide which ones to commercialize on a bigger scale. After meeting with Professor Narayan, we met with Chad Pastor, who not only gave an excellent presentation about the scopes and research areas of MBI, but also a very enlightening tour of the facility. During our tour, we noticed the elegant and cost-effective design of the facility and the streamlined process.

Chad Pastor showed Scott and Lee the MBI Plant.

Chad Pastor showed Scott and Lee the MBI Plant.


We got to really see and feel the famous AFEX (ammonia fiber expansion) pretreatment process and its products. After the tour, we walked out of the MBI research facility feeling amazed and intrigued by the technology and development. In addition, there is a great chance of collaboration between The SearchLite, Omni Tech, and MBI in the future.

(Edited by Christy Song and MJ Zhang)

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