The Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) Innovation Hub for Advanced Computing Technologies at Wayne State University is bringing digital and computing technologies closer to commercialization. Funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and run by the Wayne State University Technology Commercialization Office, the hub will review applications for projects addressing future or poorly met market needs in cognitive computing, immersive technologies, cybersecurity, the Internet of Things, Industry x.0, blockchain and next-generation computing.

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As part of its development process, the hub selected an 11-member oversight committee of industry experts who will mentor researchers whose projects receive hub funding. These members are frontier technologists, experienced tech entrepreneurs, corporate innovators and early-stage venture capitalists, and include Tim Bates, General Motors; Jeff Jorge, Baker Tilly; Nancy Gilby, Invest Michigan; Brian Christian, The Inovo Group; Doug Neal, eLab; Vijay Sankaran, TD Ameritrade; Dan Garrison, Accenture; Gary Saarenvirta, Daisy Intelligence; Jason Miller, BitLyft; Kevin Lasser, JEMS Technology; and Manny Stockman, Osage Venture Capital.

“This program will build on the incredible work that has already been done to grow our state as a hub for technological innovation,” said Edward Kim, program director of the innovation hub. “We are continuing to see researchers and entrepreneurs choose our state as the place to begin early-stage, high-tech startup projects, and this hub will help us further establish our state as an enviable, competitive alternative to traditional destinations like Silicon Valley.”

The innovation hub’s first request for proposals opened in early September and will close Oct. 11. Researchers from Michigan institutions of higher education, hospitals systems and nonprofit research centers that will provide one-to-one matching funding are eligible to submit proposals. The finalists will be announced Nov. 15 and will present Dec. 6 before the oversight committee, with awards announced Dec. 13. Awardees are funded up to $75,000, including their organizations’ matching funds, and will begin their work to meet milestones toward their proposed projects on Jan. 6, 2020.

“Advanced computing technologies are an important part of today’s economy, both nationally and in Michigan,” said Denise Graves, MEDC university relations director. “The interest and support we have received for this new MTRAC innovation hub are tremendous, and it will help Michigan support innovative and revolutionary technology commercialization across the state.”

The MTRAC Innovation Hub for Advanced Computing Technologies is part of a network of statewide innovation hubs that includes the MTRAC Innovation Hub for Life Sciences at the University of Michigan, the MTRAC Innovation Hub for AgBio at Michigan State University, the MTRAC Advanced Applied Materials Innovation Hub at Michigan Technological University and the MTRAC Innovation Hub for Advanced Transportation at the University of Michigan. Each hub is strategically located at a university with significant strengths in the sector, further increasing the quality and quantity of resources available. 

The MTRAC program itself is supported by funds from the Michigan Strategic Fund and administered by the MEDC, with additional funding coming from partner institutions. Through June, MTRAC programs have received 638 proposals, funded 295 projects, developed 47 startup companies, licensed 34 technologies to industry partners and secured more than $199 million in follow-on funding.

MEDC’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation initiative establishes Michigan as the place to create and grow a business by providing high-tech startup companies access to a variety of critical resources, such as funding and expert counsel, from ideation to maturation. For more information on MEDC’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation, please visit www.michiganbusiness.org/entrepreneurship.

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