“In insurance, there is certain data that matters in writing a risk,” says Jeff Heine, CRO of Groundspeed Analytics, a top-rated Ann Arbor fintech startup that is disrupting the insurance industry. “But they don’t use more than 10 percent of the data. With AI,” Heine explains, “we’re taking the intensive manual effort [to analyze the data] and automating that.” Groundspeed was rated a finalist for InsurTech Honor of the Year Award by Insurance Insider, was listed by Business Insider as a top Breakout Fintech Star, and was named by the 2020 CB Insights Fintech 250 List of Fastest Growing Fintech Startups. It’s one of the hottest new AI startups coming out of emerging tech hub Ann Arbor, Michigan, but it hasn’t gotten the same attention as many cybersecurity or conversational AI companies because the fintech space is often disconnected from other innovative startups in the Midwest. Groundspeed has gained a lot of ground under the mainstream radar.
Universities everywhere are trying to trim budgets and plan for virtual instruction in case of a second wave in the Fall 2020 semester, but where does that slack come from? In the case of schools where staff is at essential levels already or there are unavoidable cutbacks or furloughs, can software help remaining faculty and staff do more with less?
The idea? Put publicly available datasets all in one place so it’s easier for researchers to do text mining and analysis on over 19 million academic articles. The CORD-19 dataset, a full-text and metadata dataset of COVID-19 and coronavirus-related research articles, is included. Amy Kirchhoff is the Text and Data Mining Business Manager at ITHAKA, the company that runs popular academic research site JSTOR. Kirchhoff is also an Archive Service Product Manager at Portico, ITHAKA’s content preservation archive. She leads a team building a new service to allow users to mine datasets related to COVID-19 research along with a host of other related data and published papers. “We are building a text mining service,” Kirchhoff says of the new program, which allows customized searches of aggregated datasets related to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Ann Arbor-based academic research database company ProQuest has just announced it is aggregating a database of coronavirus and related virus research available through its library customers and to academic research users for free to assist in research and data analysis of the quickly developing COVID-19 outbreak. “The Coronavirus Research Database saves time and improves outcomes for researchers by aggregating authoritative content from ProQuest with content made available at no cost by members of the International Association of STM Publishers…. Journals, preprints, conference proceedings and dissertations provide comprehensive coverage of COVID-19 and other past coronavirus outbreaks, such as MERS and SARS, for context around the current global pandemic. Full-text content in the database is available either directly from ProQuest or via links to publisher sites.”
Joe Affholter of Michigan State Unversity and Michelle Larkin at the University of Michigan have essentially the same job: get academic research in the life sciences from the laboratory where it is discovered in Michigan’s half dozen largest research universities out to industry. Sounds simple, but it’s anything but. That’s because the MEDC’s Life Sciences MTRAC program is tasked with licensing technology invented in the academic system, mentoring new founders who often did not start in industry, and with helping companies get funded through clinical trials and the push out to the commercial market, which can take years to complete.
“I began working at Menlo Innovations in February 2018 as a Software Developer, though recently I’ve shifted to Quality Advocate (QA) as my main role,” says Kyler Wilkins, or Ki5 as he’s known in the local music scene. Kyler is a hip hop artist, beatboxer, singer/songwriter, and looping artist. His music sounds like a combo between hiphop and EDM, and he’s good. He does a lot of covers, but the music he put together on the night we saw him in Ann Arbor was original, complex, and intriguing. He’s been featured on NPR’s All Songs Considered, and says it was a natural progression for him to step up in his role at Menlo, which is now famous for its founders “joy-based” software and culture design process for engaging work environments, to combine tech and music.
Human Element, of Top 20 Fastest Growing Companies in Michigan, Creates The Kind of Culture They Want To Stay In
“We’ve been experiencing 3-4 years of 30% growth rate year over year,” Human Element’s Ben Lorenz tells us. “We’ve been an Inc 5000 company 3 years in a row and last year were named one of the Top 20 fastest growing companies in Michigan.” Ann Arbor is one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the Midwest, but what explains some companies like Human Element growing so much more quickly than others? To some extent, it’s positioning and the market they’re in. It’s no secret that AI companies are hot, as well as security. An e-commerce strategy company like Human Element has a lot of work to do catching up Midwest companies to digital business processes and online sales. But that’s not all it is.
Kristin Judge is a former Washtenaw County Commissioner elected in 2008, who has also worked as Director of Government Affairs at the National Cyber Security Alliance where she worked with Google, the FTC, FBI, SBA, DHS, and NIST to educate the public on how to protect sensitive data. As such she was the perfect person to run the CyberCrime Support public-private collaboration that helps consumers and businesses after they have been the target of cyber-fraud at FraudSupport.org.
The world requires innovation—now more than ever. Science. Technology. Engineering. Math. Along the wild shores of Lake Superior, researchers, students, and entrepreneurs create the future. So says the website for MTEC SmartZone, a tech incubator that is located on the shores of Lake Superior in northern Michigan. You can’t get much farther north in the United States toward fresh air and rugged wilderness at the gateway to the Keewenaw Peninsula that juts out into cold and stunningly beautiful Lake Superior, and you can’t get much better aligned with Michigan tech. That’s because MTEC operates out of Michigan Technological University in Houghton. One of the biggest challenges currently facing Michigan’s new growth in tech-related industries is that there is so little media coverage or visiblity for all the smaller players that make up a very large movement of startups that are revitalizing Michigan’s economy. Who knew there were tech incubators all over the state of Michigan? Hardly anyone, including us until recently.
When Cronicle Press Tech News launched out of Ann Arbor in April of this year, our goal was to talk to every tech company in town we could by the end of 2019. Since we knew that probably wasn’t possible with more startups launching every month, the benchmark was to at least interview 100. It’s only September, and we’ve already passed that 100 interview milestone, thanks to the generosity of people like you reading this now. Thank you for letting us in to your startups and your incubators and labs and your amazing meetups and conferences. To dig in to your search platforms and co-working models and your natural language processing. We are deeply grateful to be a part of highlighting the great work you’re doing to elevate tech globally and in the Great Lakes region, where the balanced lifestyle and reviving communities are contributing to a renaissance of new tech.