Metro Detroit is sometimes referred to as its own worst enemy when it comes to building businesses and creating jobs. A new non-profit called AutoHarvest is ready to make the region its own best asset by capitalizing on its plethora of intellectual property.
"We think of the auto industry as low-tech and behind," says David Cole, chairman and co-founder of AutoHarvest
. "It's not that at all. This is the most complicated industry in the world."
AutoHarvest plans to help connect the automotive industry and Metro Detroit's entrepreneurial ecosystem with the immense amount of intellectual property in the region. The idea is that making these connections will accelerate the deal flow and job creation in both the local auto industry and other emerging sectors.
Cole points out that there are six major automakers with operations in the region and another 350 auto suppliers. Pair those with its two research universities, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, and its handful of business accelerators and there are not only enough sources of intellectual property but players who can use it. It's only a matter of connecting one to the other.
"This is a marketplace to facilitating collaboration around intellectual property," Cole says. "We think it's going to work."
AutoHarvest is working with each of the Big 3, the Michigan Economic Development Corp
, local foundations and business accelerators, and creating a peer group of 50 organizations to draw support from. The non-profit is headquartered in Ann Arbor SPARK's
central offices but is also keeping offices in Detroit's TechTown
and the University of Michigan's North Campus Research Complex
Source: David Cole, chairman and co-founder of AutoHarvest
Writer: Jon Zemke