Emergent BioSolutions, other Michigan companies bring in students for fresh ideas

Emergent BioSolutions, Inc., a global specialty pharmaceutical company, is generating fresh ideas from Michigan State University students at its Lansing location to improve operations.

Emergent BioSolutions, the Roscommon-based Lear Corp., the Saginaw-based Mistequay Group, Ltd. and approximately five other companies hosted more than 20 undergraduate and graduate business and engineering students on various projects. The initiative is the brainchild of Bill Demmer, the CEO of the Lansing-based Demmer Corp., who donated $5 million to the university to create the Marnie Demmer Center for Business Transformation in late 2011, MLive.com reports.

"We had been using consultants' help from all over the country assisting us in our business transformation," Demmer said, according to MSUToday.com. "As our relationship with the MSU Broad College of Business grew we found that everything we needed was right in our own back yard."

The center focuses on promoting lean practices to get the most value in the least amount of time with the fewest resources. For instance, last semester, student Carl Ream helped the Grand Rapids-based Van Eerden Foodservice Co. rework its warehouse layout for better efficiency.

"It gives these companies exposure to these ideas they may not have had before, a new fresh set of eyes to walk around the manufacturing layout or the company and see where it needs improvement," Ream said, according to MLive.com.

MSU students are working with Emergent BioSolutions on inventory reduction and control.

Students are paid through the center, which receives funding from some participating companies and the Demmer grant, MLive.com reports.