Just a few months ago, industry-disrupting conversational AI startup Clinc, which is rolling out an automotive application of their voice-interface software in 2021, was filling the top floor of tech and startup co-working space Cahoots and filling an office in Kerrytown. Now the conversational AI research startup is expanding into a third location in Ann…
Every Time The Bell Rings, a Startup Gets Its Wings: Venture Accelerator’s Diane Bouis Talks Connecting New Ann Arbor Startups
In a maze of buildings on the University of Michigan’s North Campus in Ann Arbor, the Venture Accelerator, startup hub for intellectual property spun off by the Office of Tech Transfer from research and faculty at the University of Michigan, sits quietly on the block that used to be owned by Pfizer. Diane Bouis, Innovation Program Manager at the Venture Accelerator, helps these new ventures find resources and space in the many labs and offices housed in the building where the Venture Accelerator hosts new companies. The Venture Center, Accelerator, and Office of Tech Transfer work in close conjunction here to support baby startups in life sciences in particular to get out into the world.
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.
You go to the zoo, but you’ve just missed the lions, who are taking a break in the shade across the enclosure. Sometimes, visits to zoos and museums are like this. What if the app on your phone helped you plan your visit, buzzed you when the lions were being fed, and when you pointed your camera at their faces, it identified them for you by name using machine learning and gave you info on their health and history? Geoxhibit, from Ann Arbor design firm Orangesplash, is a new app that brings all kinds of custom features to museums, zoos, and gardens that helps visitors not only connect with the enormous amount of specialized knowledge held by exhibits and staff on site, but also customize their visit with exhibit planning, customized scavenger hunts, and more.
College campuses have been through a number of crises lately, from dealing with increasing academic pressure to a growing number of active shooters to high rates of alcohol abuse among young people. One startup aims to offer students support in a format that works for their lives–in demand, online, and peer to peer. hEARt is a new startup founded at the University of Michigan out of the OptiMize program, which is creating a platform and peer mentoring service to combat the mental health crisis facing many students in college and even in high school.
The market for software development teams serving software companies is saturated, at least in Ann Arbor, where Alfa Jango founder Steve Schwartz has started and/or sold several startups himself alongside helping other new companies. That’s why he decided several years ago to focus on helping non-tech startups get the software development and guidance they would need so they could focus on the subject area they were expertise in. The results speak for themselves. Alfa Jango now serves clients that hail from YCombinator to Carnegie Mellon to the University of Michigan, and after selling startup Carcode to Edmunds in 2014 with a co-founder, Schwartz has now started another company called Genomenon on the side, which true to his vision uses his technical expertise on the tech side but focuses primarily on creating a genome interpretation software that empowers genomicists to compile and analyze research on immune disorders and cancer to better serve patients–rather than worrying about the software that allows them to do their work. Genomenon helps companies develop therapies or precision medicine to treat root causes of disease instead of symptoms, or build their knowledge database.
The man who founded popular ForeSee Results survey software you’ve seen on websites from Realtor.com to U.S. government websites is back, and he’s working with a great team. Larry Freed recently came on board as CEO of Give & Take, a Fortune, Inc, and FastCompany-featured startup leveraging software to foster reciprocity in business teams.
There’s a new tech company hiring in Ann Arbor, and its biggest challenge is keeping up with growth. Gradient Valley is “Southeast Michigan’s premiere provider of machine learning solutions,” a machine learning and artificial intelligence consultancy built out of a partnership between owner Keith Bourne and Arbormoon Software owner Dave Koziol. Keith Bourne tells us he started this company in 2018 after doing similar work for 3 years because the cost of working with machine learning and AI is dropping and a lot of companies are interested.
Moody Mattan of Brand XR, an augmented and virtual reality company, says he got into the business side of tech by breaking into VC to help small groups generate billion-dollar outcomes. He’s from Michigan and went to Wayne State, but after graduating into a “terrible economy” in 2009, he moved overseas to work in logistics software in Malaysia and Jordan. He came back for an MBA and ended up in Silicon Valley in a firm working on augmented reality tech. He was interested in enterprise use for the technology, such as using augmented reality for virtual training or remote assistants.
The Third Space. Community. It’s a topic that has rolled around communities lately because of the growth of online education and the disconnected social structure of modern society. Some companies are now doing more than starting meetups. Ray Batra, founder of ShiftUp, is a new community builder in the online education space surrounding technology. The company is brand new, Detroit-based, and plans to expand to other topics but has started in coding because it’s one of the learning spaces that most benefits from support and peer learning.