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Advaita scores $125K from Michigan Emerging Technologies Fund

Advaita just secured the final installment of a $125,000 in seed capital from the Michigan Emerging Technologies Fund, which is the latest in large amount of funding the bio-tech firm has secured.

Advaita is leveraging technology developed at Wayne State University. The 7-year-old start-up is developing a bioinformatics software solution called Pathway-Guide that provides gene pathway analysis technology. Pathway-Guide helps researchers trying to understand the data generated by high-throughput experiments, including next-generation sequencing. The technology looks to eliminate many false positives in diagnosis, as well as correctly identify biologically meaningful pathways in a given disease.

"It's a tremendous tool that will help people understand the mechanics of disease," says Sorin Draghici, president, CEO & founder of Advaita. He is also a computer science professor at Wayne State University who discovered the technology.

Advaita secured a $2.2 million Phase II Small Business Technology Transfer grant last year. That seed capital, along with the Michigan Emerging Technologies Fund cash, has allowed the company and its six people to begin commercializing the technology.

"We're selling this," Draghici says. "The product is ready. We have already sold this to a couple of research universities."

Source: Sorin Draghici, president, CEO & founder of Advaita
Writer: Jon Zemke

Michigan Corps launches fellowship program with 1st fellow in Detroit

Michigan Corps has launched a fellowship program which promises to bring more young talent to Michigan and Detroit in particular.

Michigan Corps aims to help connect Michigan ex-patriots with businesses and organizations that are working to improve the Great Lakes State. It was co-founded by Anuja and Rishi Jaitly, who now serves as the Detroit program director for the Knight Foundation. The Michigan Corps fellowship program was started with the idea of "support the growth and sustainability of our modern engagement and social impact platform in service of Michiganders everywhere," according to the email release announcing the program.

"These fellows will serve as a liaison between Michigan and Michigan Corps' growing network of Michiganders around the world," says Elizabeth Garlow, director of strategic initiatives for Michigan Corps.

The Michigan Corps welcomed its first fellow earlier this year. The Wayne State University student is helping support the work of Kiva Detroit, a microlending website focused on helping Detroit's entrepreneurs and project leaders.

The fellowships normally last three months to a year and sometimes come with a stipend, depending on the circumstances for each fellow. Garlow expects the number of fellows to expand to six within the next year.

Source: Elizabeth Garlow, director of strategic initiatives for Michigan Corps
Writer: Jon Zemke

U-M students launch TurtleCell to solve earbud tangle

Paul Schrems has two ambitions these days. One is to start his own company and the second is to not have to keep untangling the earbuds for his smartphone. He's doing both with TurtleCell, a consumer-electronics start-up he is launching with Nick Turnbull.

Schrems and Turnbull are engineering students at the University of Michigan. They both love their smart phones and protective case they are in but hate reaching into the pockets to pull out a tangled mess of earbuds. So the enterprising pair invented TurtleCell, a smartphone case that has retractable earbuds built in.

"I thought why couldn't I combine the two and and save myself the time of untangling my earbuds for half of my walk to class," Schrems says.

TurtleCell has since developed a prototype and is working with mentors from the TechArb student incubator to refine the design and raise funding. The 4-month-old company plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign in January to raise funds to build the first run of products to be sold later this year.

Source: Paul Schrems, co-founder of TurtleCell
Writer: Jon Zemke

Pure as Pond Ice scores Tweet Award from Accelerate Michigan

Pure As Pond Ice likes to advertise itself as a nonprofit that is "creating a healthier Detroit for youth by using hockey as a tool for life success."

It's a motto that has made the Midtown-based organization $1,000 richer now that it has won the Tweet Award from this year's Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition. Pure As Pond Ice, plans to use that money to help launch its first after-school hockey program for youth in Detroit this fall/winter.

"We would like to create thriving communities that revolve around hockey," says Timothy Hooker, co-founder of Pure As Pond Ice. "We would like to create a hockey travel league in the city."

Pure As Pond Ice
was co-founded by local college students and hockey enthusiasts at the Blackstone LaunchPad program at Wayne State University. It first started as a way to create a scholarship fund and then help collect hockey equipment for underprivileged youth in the Motor City. Today it's raising $18,000 to create an after-school hockey program. It's working with Think Detroit PAL to make the three-day program a reality.

"We are a social entrepreneurs using hockey as a vehicle for life success through building youth hockey communities," Hooker says.

Source: Timothy Hooker, co-founder of Pure As Pond Ice
Writer: Jon Zemke

EXO Dynamics creates bio-tech device that helps lessen back pain

A group of five University of Michigan students are turning PhD work into a new back brace and a business called EXO Dynamics.

EXO Dynamics is developing an electro-mechanical back brace for medical professionals that prevents injury and lessens pain without reducing mobility. It has developed a couple of prototypes and plans to begin testing the technology in hospitals over the next year.

"This means users pain and suffering in their back is reduced," says Jorge Sanz-Guerrero, CEO & co-founder of EXO Dynamics. "It also means the need for surgery is also reduced."

The group of innovators have been developing the back brace this year at TechArb, a small-business incubator geared toward student-led start-ups run by the University of Michigan. EXO Dynamics plans to transition to the Venture Accelerator in the university's North Campus Research Complex later this year.

The start-up plans to continue testing its product over the next year and hopes to launch its product next year. The firm is looking to nail down some seed funding before the end of this year.

"This year we are raising $250,000 through microloans, pre-seed funds and local investors," Sanz-Guerrero says.

Source: Jorge Sanz-Guerrero, CEO & co-founder of EXO Dynamics
Writer: Jon Zemke

U-M student start-up Youtrivia graduates from TechArb

Youtrivia learned some valuable lessons from its time at TechArb, and plans to leverage those to not only grow its own business model but to create another space for start-ups in Ann Arbor.

The 1-year-old start-up was launched by a small group of University of Michigan students who decided to create software meant to help people build up brands through casual video games. The software allows users to create games using feature images, videos, and trivia related to a company's brand. This strategy helps to deliver deep marketing messages to consumers through an entertaining experience. Youtrivia's co-founders realized this wasn't the best business model when they took a closer look at the market while at the TechArb.

"We felt the market was very hard to compete in because brands normally trust established marketing firms to handle their brands," says Ricardo Rodriguez, CEO & co-founder of Youtrivia.

Youtrivia is now focusing more on end-users, turning itself into a game development company that is focused on producing entertainment products with a focus on music.

Youtrivia's founders are also looking to start their own tech hub on the south side of town. The four-person company was having a hard time finding a start-up community it felt comfortable with so it's starting its own. Rodriguez says his company is close to signing a lease for office space on South State Street and expects to share with five other tech start-ups.

"We are very excited that we were able to find our own space with other digital companies," Rodriguez says.

Source: Ricardo Rodriguez, CEO & co-founder of Youtrivia
Writer: Jon Zemke

PicoSpray expands to 4 as it graduates from TechArb

PicoSpray is reaching a couple of new milestones this fall. The clean-tech start-up recently graduated from the TechArb incubator at the University of Michigan and has landed financing from the Michigan Microloan Fund.

The Ann Arbor-based start-up is commercializing a low-cost electronic fuel injection system for the small engine market. The business got its start last year when a mechanical engineering student began developing a super efficient fuel-injection system for the kinds of small engines that drive motorcycles and lawnmowers. The idea is to create a cost-efficient system that is both fuel efficient and cleaner.

PicoSpray has been developing its technology at the TechArb over the last few months, utilizing the student-driven small business incubator's resources to continue developing its technology.

"We're nearing the end of the development phase," says Lihang Nong, founder of PicoSpray. "We learned a lot. We want to focus commercializing the technology."

PicoSpray has also received a microloan from the Michigan Microloan Fund. The microloan specifics weren't released but those loans average about $50,000 in size. PicoSpray's microloan enabled the start-up's team of four people to buy testing equipment and showing quantifiable benefits of the technology. The company has also filed for a provisional ballot for its technology.

Source: Lihang Nong, founder of PicoSpray
Writer: Jon Zemke

U-M researcher turns algae into oil

Biofuels haven't exactly made headlines as of late, but exciting innovations are still being discovered. Needless to say the prospects of turning algae into petroleum is darn revolutionary.
"It looks like Mother Nature was wasting her time with a multimillion-year process to produce crude oil. Michigan Engineering researchers can "pressure-cook" algae for as little as a minute and transform an unprecedented 65% of the green slime into biocrude.
"We're trying to mimic the process in nature that forms crude oil with marine organisms," said Phil Savage, an Arthur F. Thurnau professor and a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Michigan."
Read the rest here.

Wolverine Energy finds second niche in explosives detection

Wolverine Energy Solutions & Technology is not only a green start-up, but one that helps detect explosive materials.

Stick with us for a few more paragraphs.

The 2-year-old company launched out of the lab of Theodore Goodson III, a University of Michigan chemistry professor. He first developed a organic material that could help make super capacitors more energy efficient, which led to the creation of the start-up Wolverine Energy Solutions & Technology.

Now further exploration into the that technology has also led the start-up to realize it can used for the "creation of a remote and safe explosive detection device, which offers an integrated wide-area surveillance solution with relatively high sensitivity and low cost," according to the company's website.

The four-person company is still working toward developing the super capacitor and explosive detection angles of the technology. They hope to add on a few more employees next year as it pushes forward with the development of its technology.

"I would love to see our personnel triple, at least," says Stephanie Goodson, president of Wolverine Energy Solutions & Technology, who is also the wife of Theodore Goodson III. "I would love to see us produce samples for a third party."

Source: Stephanie Goodson, president of Wolverine Energy Solutions & Technology
Writer: Jon Zemke

Life Technologies acquires U-M spin-out Compendia Bioscience

Life Technologies has acquired University of Michigan spin-out Compendia Bioscience.

Suzanne Clancy, a spokeswoman for Life Technologies, confirms the Ann Arbor-based start-up will remain in Ann Arbor for the foreseeable future and under its current leadership. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, and Clancy declined to speak about Compendia Bioscience's current employment levels.

Compendia Bioscience specializes in cancer bioinformatics, which is used by the pharmaceutical industry to identify novel gene targets for drug discovery and development. The California-based Life Technologies, a public company listed on the NASDAQ, plans to leverage Compendia BioScience's oncology expertise and proprietary assets to enhance its diagnostic development capabilities across multiple platforms, including next-generation sequencing, qPCR and proteome analysis.

Compendia Bioscience spun out of the University of Michigan in 2006 and has been led by Daniel Rhodes ever since. It received $1.75 million from the Michigan 21st Century Jobs Fund in 2008. It had as many as 30 employees as of 2011, according to the company's website.

Source: Suzanne Clancy, spokeswoman for Life Technologies
Writer: Jon Zemke

Washtenaw Community College lands $2.9M grant for tech training

The U.S. Dept of Labor is giving Washtenaw Community College a $2.9 million grant to help the institution of higher learning retrain more workers in tech and IT careers.

The two-year grant, made through the Labor Dept.'s Trade Adjustment Assistance for Community Colleges Career Training program, will fund an initiative called IGNITE Michigan that will develop new IT employees in the state.

"There are people who are still out of work or are underemployed or are returning from war and need the opportunity to get a job in a high-growth area," says Michelle Mueller, associated vice president of economic & community development for Washtenaw Community College.

Washtenaw Community College is partnering with Ann Arbor SPARK to get IGNITE Michigan off the ground. IGNITE Michigan will help train workers in software development for Java and network and systems administration in Microsoft and Linux/Unix platforms. The programs will be designed to meet the needs of the adult, non-traditional learner and will combine online and classroom instruction approaches.

"Hopefully, we will be able to help a couple hundred people over the life of the grant," Mueller says.

Source: Michelle Mueller, associated vice president of economic & community development for Washtenaw Community College
Writer: Jon Zemke

OcuSciences grows team as it pushes toward commercialization

OcuSciences is growing its product portfolio and its staff in Ann Arbor, leveraging its ocular test for diabetes technology.

The Ann Arbor-based start-up, a University of Michigan spin-out, is developing an ocular diagnostic technology for metabolomic diseases that allows doctors to diagnose patients with diseases like diabetes by scanning their eyes. The process has the potential to be more accurate and catch a diabetes diagnosis much earlier than traditional methods.

The 4-year-old company is already selling the high-end version of its product (retails for $115,000) and is preparing to sell the lower-cost version of it ($30,000-$35,000) before the end of this year. "That will be a high-volume device," says Kurt Riegger, CEO of OcuSciences.

The company has hired two people over the last year, expanding its staff to eight people. That could grow again as it continues to spin-out more versions of its principal technology.

OcuSciences conducted a clinical trial for a new version of its technology that can work with therapy for Dry Age Related Macular Degeneration, which can cause blindness in older people. The firm is currently conducting two, two-year clinical trials on the technology with an international partner that Riegger declined to name.

If the therapy proves effective, Riegger hopes it will prove to be a viagra for the eye by helping it improve delivery of nutrients to the eyes and removal of waste products from it. "We hope we can slow and reverse this disease if we can catch it early enough," Riegger says.

Source: Kurt Riegger, CEO of OcuSciences
Writer: Jon Zemke

U-M MBA students pitch entrepreneurial change in Detroit

MBA students at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business pitched business ideas that could create positive change in Detroit and make a profit as part of the university's Ross Impact Challenge.

The week-long program challenged U-M's 500 MBA students to "develop a new for-profit venture that creates economic and social value in Detroit." The students worked with local organizations, like Detroit Venture Partners, the Detroit Institute of Arts, D:hive and Habitat for Humanity to come up with a social entrepreneurial pitch for business ventures that would tackle problems like the hunger or providing quality housing.

"This was a real opportunity a real opportunity for us to expose them to Detroit, many of them for the first time," says Brian Flanagan, managing director of the Ross Leadership Initiative in U-M's Ross School of Business. "It also an opportunity to expose them to Detroit as a community as an opportunity."

The 500 students broke into 48 teams which came up with socially entrepreneurial pitches. Of those, six were chosen as finalists. One of the pitches was called "DCutBikes," which wants to improve transportation in Detroit by creating a bike program supporting youth in need. Another is called "Mobile Grocery Store," which pitched an idea to bring fresh and healthy food to the Brightmoor neighborhood.

Source: Brian Flanagan, managing director of the Ross Leadership Initiative in University of Michigan's Ross School of Business
Writer: Jon Zemke

MGoBlog hires 4 team members as it expands U-M coverage

MGoBlog was riding high last year, clocking big gains in readership as the University of Michigan went through the turmoil of a coaching change, a surprise run in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, and a largely unexpected 10-win season in football.

Growth was spiking nicely for the leading U-M athletics fan site until things flattened this year. Brian Cook knows what happened and who caused this dip. He epically double points at U-M Head Football Coach Brady Hoke.

"We had a pretty bad summer (readershipwise). I blame Brady Hoke," says Cook, founder of MGoBlog, with his tongue planted in his cheek. "He had the entire (football) recruiting class signed up by March."

As a diehard U-M football fan, Cook knows that landing most of a top-tier recruiting class before spring officially arrives is good for the team's long-term prospects and therefore good for MGoBlog and his own sanity on football Saturdays. But recruiting news is what keeps sites like his going in the college sports offseason between the NCAA Basketball Tournament and the first game of football season. Success can be painful sometimes.

That dip hasn't been fatal for the growing media empire based in Ann Arbor that is MGoBlog. The 7-year-old website had expanded to a three-person team when we check in with Cook in 2011. Since then it has grown its team to five people, bringing on a photographer and sales manager. It has also had to replace two of its writers after more established competitors with deeper pockets (Rivals and ESPN) cherry picked its two writers.

"It was kind of upsetting and validating at the same time," Cook says.

MGoBlog has also expanded into the football season preview magazine market with its initial offering of "Hail To The Victors" this fall. The glossy magazine done in MGoBlog's distinctive voice became a reality thanks to a $26,000 Kickstarter campaign that largely came from the site's legions of fanboys. Cook sees working out the kinks in the magazine and solidifying its readership as one of MGoBlog's top goals in the next year.

"The most important thing for us to do is to solidify the magazine," Cook says. "I really want year two of the magazine to be solid and turn into a product that can be sold year after year."

Source: Brian Cook, founder of MGoBlog
Writer: Jon Zemke

U-M ranked 29th by U.S. News and World Report

Once again the list comes out and once again universities and colleges start the bragging/bitching process. Are these rankings accurate? Please. Still, interesting to see that a public school didn't break the top 20. Check out all the rankings here.
On the other hand, QS World University Rankings rated U-M as the top American public university and 17th overall. Read about it here.
617 Higher Education Articles | Page: | Show All
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