Braden Shugarman is part of the latest cohort of startups supported by the Desai Venture Accelerator in Ann Arbor. He and his grandfather, Florida ophthalmologist Dr. Richard Shugarman, created Shugarman Surgical Innovations to market an improved eyelid speculum called SpecLite for certain ophthalmologic procedures. The original idea came back in September of 2014, when the elder Shugarman was working as a retinal specialist performing 30-50 intravitreal injections per day for people with certain eye disorders. He realized that for people receiving injections to retain and improve their eyesight with conditions such as macular degeneration and ocular edema, the current speculums available for the last 2 decades were functional but hadn’t improved much. To increase patient comfort and decrease complications and infections, Dr. Shugarman began to design a new speculum.
A microfluidic device invented at the University of Michigan and developed by U of M startup Optofluidic Bioassay may offer a cheaper, faster, and much more reliable antibody test than those currently being rushed to market to trace the spread of COVID-19. A microfluidic device is described by the company as a “lab on a chip,” meaning that it shrinks multiple lab testing functions onto a single chip just millimeters or centimeters in size. The technology enables faster results for coronavirus antibody testing with smaller sample sizes.
What is happening with the newest cohort of tech and life science startups spun out of intellectual property invented at the University of Michigan? We’ve heard in recent times that the university has poured resources into programs for students interested in turning inventions and software into startups rather than taking a traditional job after graduation, but it seems spotty which majors and areas of the university are involved beyond computer science. We recently were introduced to several new startups navigating the entrepreneurial process straight out of college, and wanted to bring you the story of one small company and how it navigated through the maze of startup development from within the academic environment. It’s just one path to entrepreneurship in a growing tech and startup scene in Michigan, but one that is often hidden behind closed doors.
The third annual University of Michigan Data for Public Good Symposium, which runs 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Feb. 25, 2020 in Ann Arbor, will feature presentations on ways in which students, faculty, staff and community members have worked together to analyze and assess data to benefit others. The event includes a presentation by industry partner Data Driven Detroit, which provides accessible high-quality information and analysis to nonprofit organizations, foundations, universities, and businesses to support data-driven decision-making in the city.
Happy Valentine’s Day! If you’d like to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a little tech twist, this year you can send an augmented reality valentine to a child at Mott’s Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor using Spellbound AR’s new AR valentines.
This last week, we made it out to Professor Yarger’s student video game showcase in Ann Arbor, which highlights games from University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan students. Games ranged from multi-player space pirates Space Subterfuge to a game call I’m a Chopstick, where two chopsticks attempt to get dinner to the table. (“We are not responsible for any relationship troubles that arise due to gameplay!” the creators warn in their trailer.) If you couldn’t make it out to the expo, you can still check out the trailers from games including Light’s Out, Apotheosis, I’m a Chopstick, and others below. There were well over a dozen games on hand, many of them extremely cute or fun to play.
Hands down, our most popular posts in Cronicle’s first 6 months have been the feature on indie game design studios in Michigan from University of Michigan professor Austin Yarger, plus all the followup interviews of game designers from Finji Games to Heart Shaped Games to Dreaming Door. We caught up with Yarger again recently to ask when his popular student gaming showcase was taking place. Turns out, we were just in time.
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.
Beach cleanups with OSHKI are listed on the company’s social media. This summer, they started sending plastic waste collected from these cleanups directly to their new manufacturer in North Carolina. “It’s a hands-on opportunity for customers to see what we’re doing,” Riegler says. “We might do another cleanup in September, definitely another one next summer (when he’s out of school for the summer!) and maybe expand to other towns.” Meanwhile, if you’d like to support efforts to clean up the Great Lakes, Riegler recommends donating to the Alliance for the Great Lakes and getting involved with Adopt a Beach programs. Most trash in Muskegon builds up in areas that trap debris like piers or the large metal structures off the beach in Muskegon Riegler says used to be used for large-scale boating. He times cleanups after festivals to catch more waste, which often is as small as plastic pieces the size of a dime and hard to catch. This, of course, gets into fish and pollutes the $13 billion fishing industry. “I could go on,” Riegler says. For now, he finds e-commerce not only convenient as a retail channel but the best way to use technology because “it tells our whole story with video integration,” he says. “The full experience is on the site.”
Young entrepreneurs are pouring out of tech towns these days. If the towns are lucky, they retain many of them now that the Midwest and other places outside Silicon Valley are reviving and affordable spaces to grow a business. The University of Michigan, ranked #1-rated ecosystem for undergrad student entrepreneurs by Princeton Review, is leading the way in this shift in startup culture across the U.S.. That’s why successful serial entrepreneurs like Jim Price were brought on board, to mentor the next generation of founders. Price is Entrepreneurial Studies Faculty & Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, and he’s a big connector and mentor for young entrepreneurs starting out in Ann Arbor, with a background that spans coasts, tech and engineering, and teaching. He’s also a really fun guy we’ve watched help shift the entrepreneurial environment in Ann Arbor through generous mentorship, so we caught up with him in his office at the University of Michigan to ask him what led him to Ann Arbor and what trends he’s seeing these days in business and entrepreneurship.