Corporate-sponsored research is critical to the vitality of our enterprise, providing teams across the University of Michigan with incredible resources and expertise so they can collaborate with industry partners to catalyze innovative activity. Corporate philanthropy also is an essential component that drives our mission, and our ongoing partnerships with companies worldwide help strengthen and support key university priorities.

The university has modernized its approach for corporate engagement, providing clear focus and increased service in the areas of research and philanthropy.

Effective September 1, these functions will be managed by two units:


The corporate philanthropy component of the BEC will transfer to the Office of University Development (OUD). This new Office of Corporate Relations will strengthen and sustain strategic partnerships, and generate a clear focus and ideal customer experience for our corporate philanthropic partners. It will align company goals with university priorities and facilitate connections to student and alumni talent, continuing education programs and strategic giving opportunities.

Office of University Development >


The corporate research component of the BEC will be served by a new Corporate Research Alliances (CRA) unit within the Office of Technology Transfer, a unit within the Office of the Vice President for Research. This move prioritizes the faculty experience for corporate engagement, with Tech Transfer serving as the primary gateway for U-M faculty seeking to increase the impact of their research by connecting with the private sector — whether this be through corporate sponsored research collaborations, licensing discussions, or connections with entrepreneurs and investors to support startup company formation. Tech Transfer also will provide concierge service for companies, investors and entrepreneurs seeking opportunities to collaborate with U-M researchers.

Corporate Research Alliances >

Our Staff


Companies rely on our staff to serve as knowledge managers for the university, helping drive strategic opportunities for targeted partnerships. Our relationship managers are the key to that connection.

As relationship managers, they partner with strategic contacts in corporations to find mutually beneficial collaborations between industry and the University of Michigan. They work with a specific core of companies and internal U-M schools and units.

she/her/hers As senior executive director of the Business Engagement Center, Stella oversees the campus-wide strategy for corporate interactions at the University of Michigan. Stella works as a direct liaison between the business community and the University, identifying corporate partnership opport …

Senior Executive Director

he/him/his Umesh Patel is Senior Director, Business Engagement, at the University of Michigan and works closely with companies to build partnerships around the University’s research, education, and service missions. Umesh came to the University from consulting firm Accenture, where he was a Senior M …

Senior Director

he/him/his Chris joined the BEC after working for 3 years at the U-M Office of Technology Transfer. In his role at the BEC, Chris works as a direct liaison between the business community and the University, with an emphasis on health sciences. Prior to joining the University of Michigan, Chris was t …

Senior Director

she/her/hers Nell has served as a relationship manager at the Business Engagement Center (BEC) since 2010. In this capacity, she partners with strategic contacts in corporations to find mutually beneficial collaborations between industry and the University of Michigan.   She previously acted as …

Senior Director

Nick works as a direct liaison between the business community and the University, identifying corporate partnership opportunities and matching University assets to industry needs. Prior to joining the University of Michigan, Nick served as the communications director for the Ann Arbor Area Conventio …

Senior Director

Amy joined the BEC team in January 2019. She has 20 years of industry leadership experience where she focused on environmental sustainability and facility management services, in addition to four years she spent working in higher education research relations. Her diverse experience allows her to uti …

Senior Director

Amy joined the University of Michigan in 2008, where she helped found the Center for Entrepreneurship, while working with the BEC to assist small companies and startups get connected to the University of Michigan. In 2015, she joined the BEC full-time to concentrate on expanding her role to more tec …

Senior Director

In her role as director at the BEC, Olga serves as a direct liaison between the business community and U-M, identifying corporate partnership opportunities in order to match University assets to industry needs. Olga came to the BEC with 16 years of experience in sales and marketing, including her mo …


she/her/hers Sheila joined the BEC in 2017 to tell compelling stories of partnerships between industry and academia at U-M. To do so, she forges connections across campus to make sure key partnerships are highlighted and manages the BEC website, social media channels, marketing materials and publica …

Communications Director

Playing an integral role at the Business Engagement Center, Christine assists Executive Director Stella Wixom, one of the Relationship Managers, and other BEC staff with corporate visits, while overseeing a major corporate research program budget and coordinating special projects and events. Christi …

Administrative Specialist

Charmayne Wiley joined the BEC in January of 2016, providing support to the BEC staff. She comes to BEC with over 12 years of progressive industrial and higher educational administrative experience. Prior to joining the BEC, Charmayne provided executive and student support in the College of Engineer …

Administrative Assistant Intermediate

Dimitra joined the BEC team in October of 2019 as Communications and Business Assistant. In this role, she supports the communications director, data analyst, and other corporate relations staff. She also serves as a communications coordinator assisting in a variety of marketing and communications p …

Communications and Data Assistant


Our team talks about who we are, what we do at the BEC, and why we are passionate about industry engagement at U-M.




If you’d like to connect with a relationship manager at the BEC, please email us at or use our contact form below.