Enterprise software company UrsaLeo recently announced an expansion into the Southeast Michigan advanced manufacturing space with an Ann Arbor office opening. The company plans to work with manufacturers to create 3D photorealistic models of factory floors, equipment and product models to create remote training, operations, and product demo options for companies adding virtual modeling to their operations.
TusStar is an affiliated network of tech startup incubators and early stage venture accelerators located in over 130 cities around the world. It is led by professors at Tsinghua University in China, a major research university in Beijing, and there is a TusStar Incubator in emerging tech hub Ann Arbor, where a number of academic faculty at the University of Michigan start new companies to make use of inventions found during their research careers. Frank Ni is the head of TusStar Ann Arbor, founded as the premier TusStar location in the U.S. in late 2017 on the north side of Ann Arbor which is famous for its engineering, science research, robotics and autonomous vehicle research campuses. “Innovation can go beyond borders,” Ni tells Cronicle of the philosophy of starting an international incubator in Southeast Michigan.
Research labs have been shut down. Small businesses are searching for funding. But it’s not all bad news in the emerging tech hubs of the Midwest. Especially in hard-hit Michigan, the structure is in place to allow some startups to do quite well during challenging times. We went in to a few interviews of Midwest tech companies and startup coaches thinking they would help us pay forward resources to startup founders to get through these hard times. In addition to resources, they had some good news.
Manufacturers across the Midwest are rushing at historic speeds to create protective gear, ventilator components, and other hospital gear for front-line healthcare workers saving lives in the coronavirus outbreak, which in Michigan is now increasing in confirmed cases by up to 1,500 cases per day. Susan Carlock is a former ER nurse, so when her stamping and component manufacturing company Mursix Corporation in Yorktown, Indiana, heard about the urgent need for PPE, ventilators, and other medical supplies at Michigan hospitals, she sprang into action. Carlock is now VP of Business Development at Mursix, and like many others around the Great Lakes manufacturing belt, she knows the importance of moving quickly to retool a production line normally used to produce parts for the automotive industry to creating face shields, ventilator parts, and hospital bed components. It can’t happen overnight, especially at a time when smaller manufacturers are fighting against urgent conditions and a shortage of materials being scooped up by larger companies. Mursix began speaking with Beaumont Health System in Detroit, and soon they had arrangements to create components for a number of hospital supplies so desperately needed in the fight against COVID-19.
“It’s a very natural feeling, it doesn’t feel as if a robot is driving.” Noah is an engineer with May Mobility. He’s driving us along with May CEO Ed Olson around downtown Ann Arbor. Pedestrians cut into crosswalks against the light and better judgment, a hallmark of the local student pedestrian-friendly culture. And this autonomous shuttle is not only not hitting them–it’s treating them with a lot more deference and a natural-feeling safe distance, than you might get from a lot of human drivers.
There was one moment that convinced us Ann Arbor was going to make it through the birth canal as a growing tech hub, and that was when Ford decided to locate a new agile software consultancy, FordLabs, in Ann Arbor, to recruit University of Michigan software development talent to help make the 100-year-old automaker more agile and lean. Where Ann Arbor’s arts and tech culture meet the automotive giants of Detroit, FordLabs sits at the crossroads, not just of shifting best practices but of time. John Handy, Office Director of FordLabs who welcomed us in with several other key players in the organization for a tour, told us this is really nothing new. People forget, ourselves included, that lean startup culture was in part born here in Detroit, in lean manufacturing.
MAXAR Builds Next-Generation Technology For Space Infrastructure To Earth Intelligence To Self-Driving Cars
Little known fact: Ypsilanti, Michigan, has been home to a satellite and remote sensing company now called MAXAR since 1947. Focused on space infrastructure, remote sensing for earth intelligence, and the technology to support self-driving cars, MAXAR and the companies that came before it were originally spun out from the University of Michigan and were hosted at the old Willow Run Labs.
Ann Arbor’s Voxel51, an AI startup that analyzes video for self-driving automotive applications and more, was featured last week in TechCrunch for its seed funding round raising $2 million, and because the company was chosen as a top 5 AI/machine learning company across the U.S. selected as a TechCrunch Top Pick to present at Tech Disrupt 2019. AI is growing up, and startups like Voxel51 are getting out there. That’s because Voxel51 is using adaptive tech to analyze videos using AI, not just traditionally frame by frame, but through analyzing the relationships between frames to understand what is going on content-wise over time.
“People used to drive for fun. It’s not fun anymore. It’s not working,” said John Tolva the founder of Cityfi at the opening of the a2Tech360 Mobility Summit at The Graduate hotel on Huron Street in Ann Arbor. Americans spend 75 minutes a day on daily trips, he said, and we know that cycling to…
It’s a little known conference in Novi every year, where auto suppliers show off their latest tech for in-vehicle connectivity, user interfaces, and sensors. TU-Automotive brings together dozens of companies as far flung as Brazil, Belgium, and Silicon Valley for an industry event that follows 6 tracks of events on the latest tech in AI…