MAIN receives $12.4 million as one of six regional projects submitted under the Global Epicenter of Mobility (GEM) initiative
DETROIT – TechTown Detroit announced the launch of the Mobility Accelerator Innovation Network (MAIN) as one of six components of the Global Epicenter of Mobility (GEM) initiative. Beginning in late 2021, the Detroit Regional Partnership led a coalition that includes the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Southeast Michigan Community Alliance (SEMCA) in coordination with Michigan Works!, State of Michigan’s Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, TechTown Detroit and University of Michigan’s Economic Growth Institute. MAIN’s role in the coalitionis to accelerate the growth of mobility startups that drive innovation to fill gaps in the mobility value chain.
GEM was selected out of 60 finalists nationwide to receive the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant and was awarded $52.2 million. Additional support from General Motors and the William Davidson Foundation has been leveraged to make the project possible. TechTown received a total of $12.4 million to focus on creating a program alongside its partners to serve and capitalize on mobility startups from the idea stage through commercial scale.
The seven organizations partnering to support MAIN include Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Tech, Design Core Detroit at the College for Creative Studies, Endeavor Detroit, Invest Detroit, Michigan Founders Fund, University of Michigan and Wayne State University, with TechTown serving as the coordinating partner.
“MAIN will allow Detroit to remain at the forefront of innovation in the mobility sector as we transition to a new electrified, autonomous and connected reality,” said Ned Staebler, Vice President for Economic Development at Wayne State University and President and CEO of TechTown Detroit. “By creating and connecting a robust, comprehensive startup ecosystem, we will advance the state’s mobility and electrification leadership and build on Michigan’s economic momentum fundamentally changing the game for early-stage companies in the mobility space in Detroit.”
“General Motors is thrilled to work with TechTown Detroit to support the MAIN program,” said Terry Rhadigan, Vice President of Corporate Giving for General Motors. “This is another great way we’re working toward an all-electric future and investing in our headquarters’ city and its entrepreneurial community.”
Historically, tech and mobility founders have had to navigate a disconnected array of entrepreneurship support providers to find the assistance and help they need. MAIN will solve that problem by cultivating and growing the commercialization programs focused on mobility, including relevant software and hardware licensing, and business creation at two research universities. MAIN will also develop the Michigan Mobility Fund Network to help startups access capital by engaging venture capital firms and various angel networks while supporting founders through entrepreneurship education related to venture capital readiness.
Martin Dober, Senior Vice President with Invest Detroit and Managing Director of ID Ventures says his organization will play a key role in the creation of the Michigan Mobility Fund Network.
“We are excited to partner with TechTown as a partner with the MAIN program to lead and coordinate venture capital funds that will support mobility startups in the region,” said Dober. “MAIN is important for the region’s leadership in mobility and will help build the talent, infrastructure, and support for mobility startups that will lead to future jobs.”
MAIN will start by creating a quality map for entrepreneurs, identifying regional assets that optimally serve mobility founders and growing a strong understanding of the appropriateness of each offering based on the companies' stage of development, the nature of their idea and product/process readiness.
MAIN will also ensure that mobility companies will have access to an array of opportunities that support their connection to the community. This includes events, workshops, and other activities that will create founder-to-founder mentorship connections, business partnership opportunities, awareness of mobility supply-chain needs and opportunities, and more.
“I'm thrilled to have Wayne State University's Office of Business Innovation & Technology Commercialization serve as part of the MAIN Program,” said Lindsay Klee, Executive Director - WSU Office of Business Innovation & Technology Commercialization. “We are passionate about augmenting regional collaborative efforts as well as advancing our University Innovation pipeline focused on mobility hardware and software technologies and affiliated corporate innovation engagements.”
Dr. Don L.Tuski, president of College for Creative Studies, added "Designers and design businesses are integral to building truly inclusive mobility solutions, which are desperately needed locally and globally. For over 100 years, College for Creative (CCS) has proudly developed the creative talent that has propelled many Michigan industries, from automotive and tech to furniture and more. As stewards of Detroit's UNESCO City of Design designation, CCS's Design Core Detroit has championed Detroit's strength in inclusive design and its design community. We're excited to bring this experience and expertise to MAIN to further Detroit as the global epicenter for inclusive mobility.”
To learn more about the GEM initiative, visit https://www.detroitregionalpartnership.com/build-back-better/.
TechTown empowers Detroit-based startups and local businesses to start, stabilize and scale by providing resources, collaborative workspace and education for entrepreneurs that will further accelerate inclusive economic development across Detroit. Since 2007, TechTown has supported 5,371 businesses which created 2,277 jobs and raised more than $385 million in startup and growth capital. For more information visit TechTown Detroit at techtowndetroit.org.
General Motors (NYSE:GM) is a global company focused on advancing an all-electric future that is inclusive and accessible to all. At the heart of this strategy is the Ultium battery platform, which will power everything from mass-market to high-performance vehicles. General Motors, its subsidiaries and its joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Baojun and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety and security services, can be found at https://www.gm.com.
The Centrepolis Accelerator, housed in Lawrence Technological University’s Enterprise Center in Southfield, is 6,300 square feet of state-of-the-art business assistance for physical product developers and manufacturing companies, a unique niche among accelerators in the Detroit area. Clients include manufacturing startups and existing companies looking to move up to the next level in product innovation. Services include access to office space, co-working space, workshops, mentors, business planning services, and laboratories and equipment for digital product design and prototyping, as well as virtual reality and mixed reality labs.
College for Creative Studies (CCS)
Located in the heart of Detroit, the College for Creative Studies is a world-class institution that educates artists and designers to be leaders in the creative professions. A private, fully accredited college, CCS enrolls more than 1,400 students pursuing Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees. CCS alumni have been on the leading edge of every field of design, with a robust network of alumni from historically underrepresented backgrounds currently working in the booming athletic footwear business.
Design Core Detroit champions design-driven businesses and their role in strengthening Detroit's economy. It offers services to strengthen, grow and attract design businesses, increase market demand for design services and tells Detroit's design story locally and globally. Design Core is a department within the College for Creative Studies, which is a private, nonprofit art and design college in Detroit, MI.
Design Core serves design-driven industries that specialize in design or utilize design as a central discipline of their business strategy. As the steward of Detroit's UNESCO City of Design designation, Design Core serves as the convener and backbone organization for the Detroit City of Design initiative.
Founded in 1997, Endeavor selects, mentors and provides customized support services to entrepreneurs leading companies with the most potential to create economic impact. Headquartered in New York City, Endeavor currently has 500+ staff members that operate in 41 growth markets and 65 cities throughout Latin America, Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America. Referred to as “the best anti-poverty program of all” by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Thomas Friedman, Endeavor now supports 2,355 entrepreneurs leading 1,460 companies around the world, including the first $1B valued companies to come out of 12 countries. Endeavor Entrepreneurs have created more than 3.4 million jobs, generated combined revenues of over $42B, and helped build sustainable growth models in their home countries. Endeavor’s global board members include Reid Hoffman, Founder of LinkedIn, Edgar Bronfman Jr., Managing Partner at Accretive LLC and former CEO of Warner Music Group, and U2’s The Edge.
Invest Detroit/ID Ventures
ID Ventures was created by the nonprofit Invest Detroit in 2009 to enhance its overall mission to support inclusive growth of entrepreneurial ventures. As one of few venture funds located in Detroit, ID Ventures is one of the most active early stage investors in the state and have invested in over 120 Michigan-based companies across multiple sectors including life sciences and healthcare, information technology, fintech, mobility, advanced manufacturing and materials, among others. ID Ventures only invests in Michigan-based companies or those that are in the process of relocating and oversees additional programs designed to grow and support the state’s startup ecosystem.
Michigan Founders Fund
Michigan Founders Fund (MFF) is the state’s founder community. Together, we are committed to fellowship, cultural intention, and funding solutions that uplift communities across the state where we live and operate. MFF’s mission is to grow the presence of successful high-growth ventures and advance civic leadership in Michigan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by (1) creating a strong, inclusive, and active founder-to-founder support network to help leaders succeed in their ventures, (2) driving a for-purpose, founders-for-founders and founders-for-community culture, (3) providing founders with a simple mechanism for philanthropic giving and opportunities to become community leaders in parallel to being business leaders. MFF creates programs for founders and investors to advance relationships, the ecosystem, and startup success. The MFF network of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists have pledged 1% of equity, profit or investment carry from their businesses into a fund for state-based grantmaking. To date, the organization has 56 pledged members.
The University of Michigan Innovative Partnerships Accelerate Blue Fund
The Accelerate Blue Fund (ABF) is an early-stage venture fund that exclusively invests in University of Michigan (U-M) licensed startups. The goal of Accelerate Blue is to bridge the funding gap between initial launch and angel/VC funding for startups based on University of Michigan intellectual property (IP). The Fund is an opportunity to further enhance U-M’s leadership position in research, technology innovation and commercialization by creating a critical new resource to support U-M startups. In addition to risk tolerant early stage capital, ABF provides extensive business mentoring and IP support through U-M Innovation Partnerships. Learn more.
Wayne State University
Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about business innovation and technology at Wayne State University, visit https://innovate.wayne.edu/.