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67 Research + Innovation Articles | Page: | Show All

Auto supplier BorgWarner in Auburn Hills partners with Silicon Valley's Plug and Play accelerator

Excerpt: 

BorgWarner, a large automotive supplier in Auburn Hills, announced it is increasing its exposure to emerging technologies and innovation in the mobility sector by partnering with Plug and Play, an accelerator ecosystem for startup companies, and Franklin Venture Partners, a specialized investment team within Franklin Templeton Investments.

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Altran expands to Detroit, brings passive safety solutions to U.S.


This feature is courtesy of Driven, the story of how the Detroit region is leading the world in next-generation mobility.

Pedestrian passive safety is a concept that means little to the average American, yet it’s been part of vehicle safety development in Europe for nearly a decade.

Altran, the largest global, multi-industry engineering, research, and development powerhouse, with $3 billion in revenue and 45,000 employees in 20 countries--but relative newcomer to the Detroit region--has deep expertise in pedestrian passive safety. Altran’s skilled workforce has been testing pedestrian passive safety solutions, as well as airbags and vehicle interiors, in its World Class Passive Safety Center in Wixom since opening in November, 2107. The center joins others of its kind operated by Altran in Austria, Germany, Canada, and France.

Known as active bonnet or active hood, these passive safety systems work to decrease injury to pedestrians in the case of impact, and in some cases, the need for these systems can drive the design of the vehicle. Manufacturers that export vehicles to Europe know all about active bonnet systems, but it’s just a matter of time before domestic vehicle models will be required to incorporate this type of safety technology, says Sebastian Wipfler, manager of the Altran’s World Class Center in Wixom.

“If you are driving a car, you can work to prevent an accident, but if there is an accident, the car has to be developed to give the pedestrian the highest chance to survive,” says Wipfler. European regulations require testing to prove that vehicles will do minimal damage to pedestrians on impact.

Here in the U.S., there were 5,376 pedestrian fatalities in 2015, an increase from the previous year.

“The automotive industry is continually working to make cars safer, and one of the critical elements of making a car driverless is managing the safety,” says Mohan Raju, Altran head of automotive North America."We all work to prevent collision using active safety, or maneuvering the car using technology, and this is essentially the work going on in the autonomous vehicle space.”

Until driverless vehicles are mainstream in the market, passive safety measures that minimize or eliminate injury to pedestrians and passengers are an important part of future automotive safety regulations in the U.S.

“Europe is ahead of the U.S. in passive safety, particularly in pedestrian safety,” Raju says.

Expanding to the U.S.

While Altran could have located its center in several locations here in the U.S., the Detroit region’s dense population of vehicle manufacturers and suppliers, robust global automotive leadership, and automotive engineering talent made Michigan the most attractive and smartest choice.

Altran clients, including OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers, were seeking a local presence of expertise, and Altran recognized the market opportunity. The scouting process began in 2016, when the head of the Altran World Class Center in Graz, Austria met informally with members of the Destination Detroit team of the Detroit Regional Chamber, and asked some smart questions.

Detroit’s automotive reputation solidified Altran’s decision quickly. While it may make sense for startups to consider the west coast, every automotive resource has a presence in the Detroit region.

“Where is the best place to be for automotive? You always end up in the Detroit area,” says Wipfler. “Even west coast companies, most of them now have offices here. The Tier 1s are here. Everyone needs to be present in the Detroit area. That’s what we saw.”

When Altran was ready to focus in and select a location for its testing facility, it returned to the connection it had made with the Destination Detroit team.

“From our conversations, we learned Detroit is where they wanted to be. For automotive engineering and R&D, this is the hub, and the customers they were looking for and the leadership in the auto industry are all here,” says Will Butler, business development representative with the Detroit Regional Chamber.

Butler and his team took a deep dive and learned that Altran needed a site on a moderate parcel of land that could accommodate a 500-foot straight track for testing, and be enclosed by fencing to maintain client confidentiality. They researched dozens of locations, and brought on board a real estate expert to find just the right building, in an appropriate location, that could accommodate customization on a tight schedule.

“It was a little bit like a puzzle, and certainly an interesting challenge,” says Butler. “As economic developers, we want projects to be easy and quick, and we worked hard to help Altran find just what they needed. Speed to market is the name of the game.”

Support on the ground

Assuming the quarterback role, the Destination Detroit team kept the project on track and moving forward by tapping into a deep network of experts, including county and city departments that responded quickly and worked to provide approval for the site’s specific needs.

Ultimately, Altran’s successful expansion into the Detroit region--and into the United States-- was a collaborative effort between Destination Detroit, Oakland County, and the city of Wixom. Destination Detroit’s long standing experience in the needs of advanced automotive industries helped Altran meet its goals for growth.

“The people at Destination Detroit were very helpful all along,” says Raju. “Once we chose our building, it needed special approvals from the city of Wixom to be built to our needs, and the Detroit Regional Chamber helped us coordinate with the city to get the approvals.”

Now In operation with about eight employees in Wixom, Altran plans to grow to a staff of 25 within a couple of years.

“Altran has a very large global presence, but we are relatively new to the North American market. For us to get entry into this region as a service provider to any of the OEMs or Tier1s, we have to be ahead of the game, and better at something that not many other providers can offer,” says Raju. “One of our entry strategies was to bring in the World Class Center for Passive Safety in Detroit, and expand into offering each OEM all the other services we can provide. We have some of the best facilities in Europe, and this is a footprint for us to expand our offerings to the North American market.”

With mobility as a key area of expertise, Altran is poised to provide a diverse portfolio of services to its clients from its World Class Center in Wixom.

“We are working to focus on a combination of local delivery with Austrian expertise and Indian engineering capability to provide cost effective, highly skilled solutions in the area of passive safety to clients in the Detroit area, and across the U.S. in general," Raju says.

“Our strategy is to enter with a high level of expertise, drive cost efficiency, and engage for the long term.”

Visit Driven and learn how the Detroit region is leading the world in next-generation mobility.
 

Royal Oak-based Vectorform and Microsoft Partner to expand HoloLens technology for automotive design

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Royal Oak’s Vectorform, a digital product and experiences company with capabilities in mixed reality design and engineering, announced a collaboration with Microsoft Corp. to innovate vehicle design and the prototyping processes for the automotive industry.

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Denso in Southfield, Symbio collaborate on Finnish innovation center

Excerpt

Denso, an automotive component manufacturer with a North American headquarters in Southfield, today announced a plan to open a joint innovation center in Finland with software company Symbio.

The facility will be based in Symbio’s premises in Espoo and activities will begin this year following a letter of intent to establish the innovation center signed on Oct. 24.

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MadDog Technology transforming Pontiac into a hub for software development

Excerpt

Tech248 Director Greg Doyle interviews Mark Hillman, co-founder of MadDog Technology, one of the members of a group that represents 1000 companies. MadDog is in the historic Riker Building in downtown Pontiac, creating a world-class tech space, Hillman said. MadDog incubates and invests in software companies, some eight and counting. Former Compuware co-founder Peter Karmanos is Hillman’s partner – in case you wondered where he went after he left Compuware. MadDog also has raised a venture capital fund.

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Michigan Capital Advisors invests in Light Guide Systems augmented reality technology

Michigan Capital Advisors (MCA), a private equity firm focused on the automotive and transportation-related industries, announced it has invested in OPS Solutions, maker of the augmented reality technology Light Guide Systems that is transforming manual assembly and manufacturing processes for companies worldwide. Charles “Chip” McClure, Managing Partner of MCA, has joined the OPS Solutions Board of Managers in conjunction with this investment.

MCA’s growth equity investment will add new horsepower to the rapidly growing company, which enjoyed a 100 percent revenue increase in 2016 and expanded into a custom-built 10,000 square foot facility in Wixom.

“The entire team at OPS Solutions is excited for MCA’s support and thrilled to work with Chip and his team to bring our innovative technology and job creation tools to new markets,” said Paul Ryznar, founder, President and CEO of OPS Solutions. “MCA’s industry expertise and relationships open the door to new worldwide opportunities and expand our sales reach as we transform manufacturing processes and drive the manufacturing industry forward with smart technology.”

“Light Guide Systems is at the forefront of using augmented reality to drive meaningful productivity gains in manufacturing, and we see multiple applications for this technology in the automotive, transportation, medical device and other industries,” said McClure. “I have known Paul for over 20 years, and we are tremendously excited to be partnering with him and his team to support OPS Solutions’ growth trajectory.”

Light Guide Systems helps reduce errors and radically improve manufacturing and other manual processes by projecting a digital operating “canvas” directly onto virtually any work surface and providing audio and visual prompts, guidance, pacing and direction. Light Guide Systems Pro takes the tool to the next level by incorporating its proprietary software into the powerful yet compact Sprout Pro by HP PC platform to deliver a package that is portable, flexible and affordable.

Light Guide Systems is currently available worldwide. Visit www.lightguidesys.com for more information.

About Light Guide Systems

Wixom, Michigan-based Light Guide Systems, Light Guide Medical and OPS Solutions have created patented products, Light Guide Systems Pro™ and Light Guide Systems Classic™, which use proprietary software and industrial projector systems to guide and confirm completion of complex tasks. From assembly to quality control to training, Light Guide System’s technology provides the visualization, traceability and flexibility demanded by leading companies worldwide. Key industries include aerospace, agriculture, automotive, energy, heavy equipment and medical. Learn more at www.lightguidesys.com.

About Michigan Capital Advisors

Michigan Capital Advisors is a private equity firm focused on the middle-market Tier II and III suppliers in the automotive, heavy truck and transportation related industries.  These Tier II and III suppliers have been chronically underserved by the investment community for a variety of reasons, including market cyclicality and operational complexity.  By leveraging industry relationships, operating expertise and access to capital, Michigan Capital Advisors sees a tremendous opportunity to invest in this demanding, yet dynamic industry. Learn more at www.michigancapitaladvisors.com.

Troy company aids development of UK energy storage plants

Excerpt

Troy-based chemical company LG Chem Power Inc. first began manufacturing lithium-ion batteries in 1998, and is one of the world’s largest lithium-ion battery manufacturers with a significant market share in consumer, automotive, and stationary applications. As energy companies around the world work towards increased energy savings, environmental responsibility, and sustainability, LG Chem Power has created a robust mass production system for their battery technology and now supplies cells to major international companies, becoming one of the world’s principal battery manufacturers across several industries.

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ITC Holdings receives key U.S. Department of Energy approval for Lake Erie Connector Project

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The ITC Lake Erie Connector, a subsidiary of Novi-based ITC Holdings Corp., announced the transmission line company has received a presidential permit from the U.S. Department of Energy.

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Par Sterile Products receives Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant

Par Sterile Products, LLC, a subsidiary of Par Pharmaceutical, Inc., located in Rochester, was recently named the recipient of a $350,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant designated for an upgrade to the Par Sterile Products facility in order to accommodate a new line of high tech filling equipment as well as the training and qualification of its valuable workforce.  As a result, Par Sterile has committed to invest $58.4 million at the site to expand operations and to hire up to 30 new employees.
 
“This is a very exciting time for our Rochester facility and our local community,” said Mike Rutkowski, Par Sterile’s Senior Vice President and General Manager. “We want to thank the city of Rochester, Oakland County, and the state of Michigan for all of their support. We believe the grant will help us create more jobs and build a long-term sustainable business in the Rochester community, where our site has proudly operated for 108 years.”
 
For more information or career information regarding Par Sterile Products please visit http://www.parsterileproducts.com.

Oakland County launches open data initiative

Oakland County is making a rich source of information available to the public through its new Access Oakland Open Data Portal, County Executive L. Brooks Patterson announced. Individuals will be able to find data ranging from property information including addresses and boundaries to how to find parks and trails and locate floodplains. All data on the portal, accessoakland.oakgov.com, is free of charge and free of use restrictions.

"The county has hundreds of data sets which can become meaningful information in the hands of people," Patterson said. “When put to good use, these data sets can ultimately improve the quality of life for Oakland County residents. Making these data sets available to the public also improves government transparency.”

Oakland County maintains a mature Geographic Information System (GIS) comprised of more than 350 datasets that together with other non-spatial data provide a rich source of information that is used in the performance of its governmental duties, responsibilities, and provision of services.

Benefits of the Access Oakland Open Data Portal include:
  • Fostering civic engagement through data sharing between government agencies, residents, businesses, and other community organizations
  • Increasing the trust and improving the relationship among residents, businesses, and government agencies
  • Enabling businesses and other enterprises to make use of government data to promote economic development and increase investment
  • Reducing cost and saving time in obtaining data
"Our mission is to provide a progressive, location-based solution that promotes informed decision making, improves citizen services, and encourages collaboration across all levels of government," said Oakland County Deputy Executive & CIO Phil Bertolini. “Making these data sets widely available benefits both the private and public sector by reducing costs, reducing the time involved in obtaining the data, and providing agencies with the most accurate, up to date information for use in their business processes and decision making.”

The Open Data Portal includes ready-to-use applications that will help residents find fun locations such as cider mills or campgrounds and functional locations such as where to dispose of expired or unneeded prescription medications. Data behind key Oakland County initiatives such as Tech248 and Medical Main Street are also highlighted with interactive maps. In addition, people can dive further into the data, and explore or download it to use in their own maps or applications.

The Oakland County Board of Commissioners approved the county’s open data policy on Oct. 6 at the request of county executive administration.
 

Wixom's LawnGuru hopes to become the Uber of landscaping

LawnGuru wants to be the answer for people who need a lawn mowed the way Uber is the answer for people who need a lift.

Seems simple, right? The sharing economy has become ubiquitous in most sectors, so why not landscaping? Anyone who has tried to nail down a mowing service in April or a snow plowing service in January (when those services are in highest demand) might disagree, but LawnGuru’s team believes it can overcome those misgivings.

The Wixom-based startup has created a mobile platform that enables users to hire landscapers to mow lawns in much the same way Uber does with rides -- it connects an independent contractor with someone who needs a job done, and everybody wins. Contractors can choose jobs close to where their established work is, allowing them to maximize the efficiency and earning potential of a workday.

"Our platform gives them more money for jobs they are already near to, with no invoicing or backend work," says Skye Durrant, co-founder and president of LawnGuru.

Durrant adds that about 75 percent of the companies working in landscaping are owner-operated, so they are cutting lawns, managing employees, and filing paperwork to make it all happen. To say they're stretched thin is an understatement. LawnGuru gives them a chance to increase their revenues with less overhead headache.

LawnGuru launched its service in May and now has about 2,000 users, mostly in metro Detroit. Next year it’s aiming to expand across Michigan, then the Midwest, and then across North America. Its team of eight people executing that expansion while raising a six-figure seed round. They have already secured $25,000 by winning the product and service category at the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, Michigan's biggest business plan competition.

"In terms of the network in Michigan, it was amazing," Durrant says. "The experience as a whole was incredible."

Source: Skye Durrant, co-founder & president of LawnGuru
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Automation Alley opens $10.5M Innovation Lab at Oakland University

Excerpt

Troy-based Automation Alley, a non-profit technology business accelerator, today showed off a $10.5 million laboratory designed for product demonstrations at its technology center on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester Hills.

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Southfield-based Lear Corp. acquires technology offering in-vehicle connectivity

Excerpt

Lear Corp., a Southfield-based supplier of automotive seating and electrical distribution systems, today announced it has acquired intellectual property and technology from Autonet Mobile, a software developer for automotive connectivity applications. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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Time2Talk announces receipt of US Patent for its 'talking' software suite

Time2Talk, LLC has introduced its Talking Power Management Unit (TPMU) software to the medical industry. The recent patent issuance, several years in the making, covers unique aspects of battery and power management used for the growing number of mobile computers in healthcare. “On behalf of the entire team at Time2Talk, we are thrilled to receive protection on our IP, providing further validation to our efforts, said Dean Figlioli, Founder and CEO. Our progress thus far is a real testament to the technological prowess and healthcare leadership in our region and state.

Healthcare IT professionals immersed in a clinical setting hatched the technology. After repeatedly experiencing the problem first hand, a comprehensive solution was created to solve it holistically. The server-deployed software is aimed at shared mobile computing assets like Medical Computer Carts, Laptops, Tablets and Thin Clients used extensively in hospitals.

The problem originates from computer units that run on costly, commercial-grade rechargeable battery systems. Unfortunately, due to shared use and the hectic nature of a clinical setting, plugging them in and allowing adequate time for recharge is an often-neglected task. Thus, deep battery discharge frequently render the assets inoperable and set off a string of costly and inefficient activities within the facility.

TPMU corrects this phenomena using a unique on-screen alert as well as a “talking” feature, both fully configurable, that remind busy clinicians to simply ‘plug in’ assets prior to reaching critical discharge phase. Compliance results are astonishing, reducing incidents by over two-thirds as Clinicians’ respond to on-screen alert and human voice as opposed to blinking lights or alarms that are inherent in many mobile computing assets. TPMU also meets The Joint Commission (TJC) compliance pertaining to noise reduction and associated clinician ‘alarm fatigue’ in hospitals. The company projects an 8:1 Return on Investment for hospitals.

The software suite also includes a comprehensive reporting console to empower decision makers with valuable information capital. “In a development world that supports producing a minimally viable product, pushing it to market to gain initial traction, then fixing the bugs, Time2Talk has taken the opposite approach”, said Figlioli. “Not only was the software fully patented, version 1.3 is the prerelease version that has been meticulously designed and tested to ensure customers needs are met. The company is one-hundred percent market ready to support leading hospitals throughout our region and across the country."
 

NNG expands North American presence with new automotive office

NNG — developer of the award-winning iGO Navigation software and an industry-leading supplier of automotive navigation software, content, and services — today announced the opening of its North American Automotive offices. The move is part of NNG’s strategic expansion to support its growing business and will help the company facilitate growth in North America while strengthening local sales, marketing, engineering, and research and development support teams. Company president David Wiernik carried out the opening.
 
The new offices will house the company’s North American senior executives, as well as sales, marketing, supply chain management, and engineering support teams. The prime location provides easy access to customer and partner locations.
 
“The North American market remains a significant opportunity for NNG and will be a critical proving ground for our new technologies,” said Jim Robnett, Vice President of Business Development, NNG. “Suburban Detroit is the focal point of the automotive industry. This, coupled with the exceptional technical talent located in southeast Michigan and the close proximity to our customers and partners, made Birmingham an ideal location for NNG’s new North American Automotive offices. Consumer demand for a truly integrated and differentiated navigation experience in the car continues to intensify, and NNG is well positioned to capitalize on an ever-growing need.”
 
Robnett — charged with helping NNG expand its business with U.S. automakers — will lead the Detroit office.  He has more than 20 years of experience in the automotive and technology sectors.  Prior to joining NNG, Robnett was Director of Chrysler Uconnect Systems at Chrysler Group LLC.  He earned his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan, and earned his MBA from Michigan State University.
 
Late last year NNG won a bronze International Business Award presented by the Stevie Awards for “Fastest Growing Company in North America.” The award recognized NNG’s effort to deliver affordable navigation solutions around the world, delivering on its promise of delivering “Navigation for all.”
                                   
The complete address for the new facility is:
NNG North America
320 Martin Street, Suite 110                                                                  
Birmingham, Michigan 48009   
 
About NNG LLC
NNG develops cutting edge infotainment and navigation software for the global market, focusing heavily on automotive grade navigation technology. The company offers on-board, 3D navigation applications that incorporate connected features and a universal online update portal. NNG’s goal is to make in-car infotainment and navigation easy, fun, safe and integrated through all communication devices for everybody on board. Unique features and advanced technology, combined with a high level of flexibility, enable fast time-to-market at a low development cost.
 
The award winning iGO Navigation Software is currently installed in more than 20 million devices worldwide with over 30 million signed orders from 34 global car brands. NNG continues to strengthen its global footprint through 11 offices around the world, including Hungary, Japan (2x), the United States (3x), Switzerland, Australia, Israel, India, and China. With upcoming plans to infiltrate South and Central American markets as well. 
 
NNG is the recent recipient of the 2013/14 European Business Award, winning ”Growth Strategy of the Year", and is the proud Winner of 2014 Gold Stevie® Award for Fastest Growing Company of the Year in Europe, but also won numerous product awards through its partners.
 
To find out more about NNG please visit www.nng.com. For more information about iGO Navigation products, visit www.igonavigation.com.
 
67 Research + Innovation Articles | Page: | Show All
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