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Ann Arbor SPARK

Ann Arbor SPARK will be the driving force in establishing the Ann Arbor Region as a desired place for business expansion and location by identifying and meeting the needs of business at every stage, from those that are established to those working to successfully commercialize innovations.

 

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Visual Compass expands into mobile app development

Talk about patience. Visual Compass started as 17-year long side project, emerged from Ann Arbor SPARK's East Incubator, and has now taken up residence in Ypsilanti's Depot Town. read on…

Simple Continuity aims to become TurboTax for risk assessment

Simple Continuity, which calls Ann Arbor SPARK’s incubator home, is developing a software-as-a-service platform that helps businesses perform a better risk analysis. Its being branded as RADAR and is focused on providing more cost-effective and time-efficient compliance with federal regulations. read on…



Why downtown Ann Arbor needs more office space, and why it's unlikely to get some

It has been forecasted that demand for downtown office space in Ann Arbor will reach an additional 90,000 - 100,000 sq. ft.  Where do those companies go if our city can't or won't supply it? What are the economic implications? And how does transportation fit into the equation? Concentrate digs in. read on…



A plan to make Ann Arbor Michigan's startup city

To establish a true startup culture, Ann Arbor needs more than just a SPARK. It needs incubator, research and co-working spaces that can accommodate a growing and wide variety of needs and disciplines. Mark Smith hopes to address that with his ambitious plan to build an entrepreneurial campus on the outskirts of the city. read on…









































The Brain Gain: 3 Startups that Moved to Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor's entrepreneurial ecosystem is experiencing a "brain gain," as startups relocate here. Concentrate's Patrick Dunn chats with a trio of companies about why they decided to make the move. read on…















The Talent Factor - Pt 1: The Executive Search

Executives need jobs too. In today's fractured economy it may be hard to muster sympathy for displaced bosses but the truth is building a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem requires plenty of top talent management. So, how do you retain and recruit the execs you need? read on…

The Talent Factor - Pt. 2: How Companies Find What They Need

It's who you know. Or rather, who knows you. Ann Arbor companies have a wide variety of tools for finding the talent they need. And while social media and professional networks play a part in filling their professional ranks, for senior level positions it's a word-of-mouth world. read on…











Our Post-Pfizer Economy

When Pfizer left Ann Arbor it was hard not to view the glass as half empty. Five years and 16 start-ups later, that perspective has started to reverse. And in many ways, the transition from one large company to many more entrepreneurial efforts is exactly what our community and state needs to establish a healthier long term economy. read on…

Double Time: A Conversation with Vince Chmielewski

It's been said that the candle that burns at both ends shines twice as brightly. There's little doubt that entrepreneur Vince Chmielewski embodies the spirit of that saying. Working a full time job at U-M and running a successful web design firm on the side (not to mention growing family duties), you can't help but wonder when he sleeps. read on…



MI vs SF: The Art Of The Business Plan Competition

One excels at style. The other, substance. But when it comes to nurturing an entrepreneurial ecosystem, both matter. Jon Zemke attends Silicon Valley's quarterly Founder Showcase and our own annual business plan competition, Accelerate Michigan, and finds a clash of both cultures and community. read on…














Incubating Metro Detroit's Health Care Economy

Business incubators and accelerators are all the rage. Communities see them as a vital new tool in economic development. Southfield, in its attempt to capitalize on the region's growing reputation for medical excellence, is hoping to launch its first health care incubator. read on…








The Re-Investors

With the successful exits of Esperion and Accuri, CEO's Roger Newton and Jen Baird could have taken the money and run. Instead, they're establishing new local ventures, reinvesting in Michigan's future, and helping to grow our entrepreneurial ecosystem. read on…







Ann Arbor: Targeted For Acquisition

As Ann Arbor evolves its stable of start-ups, acquisition will be the inevitable fate for more than a few. Last month Accuri Cytometers joined the list of successful exits. But how did it happen and what does it mean for the city's entrepreneurial ecosystem? Concentrate's Jon Zemke surveys the landscape. read on…




Total Investment: A Q&A with Bhushan Kulkarni

From an engineering job with Ford to a serial entrepreneur in the process of launching his fourth company, Bhushan Kulkarni epitomizes the immigrant success story. A passionate booster for his community, family, and the state's economic future, Kulkarni chats with Concentrate about the challenges of start-up culture and the need for more mentorship. read on…





Natural Intelligence

It's not quite artificial intelligence but it sure comes close. Named one of the ten "World Changing Ideas" of 2010 by Scientific American, swarm intelligence is a biology-inspired computer algorithm that's starting to see commercial application. And most of that development occurred here, in Ann Arbor area research labs. read on…






More Than Just Good Timing: A Q&A with Ben Kazez

Ben Kazez defines the new economy lifestyle. He's the founder of a successful mobile app start-up, lives near Kerrytown, and walks to his downtown office. With promises that success won't lure him away (Mobiata was acquired by Expedia last fall), Concentrate chatted with Kazez about good food, apps, and launching a start-up. read on…



From Scratch: Denovo Sciences

What's the view at the bottom of Metro Detroit's entrepreneurial food chain? More diversity, less money. Case in point, Denovo Sciences. Its young partners are full of vim, vigor and a desire to "make change in human lives". What they could use is a little seed capital for their life science innovations. read on…










Accelerating SE Michigan's Business Ecosystem

In the shadow of this past weekend's Big Chill hockey extravaganza, The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition --an American Idol-style contest for start-ups-- was held in Ann Arbor. More important than the $1 million in cash and support handed out was the collaboration exhibited by regional business leaders. Is there a new age of cooperation dawning in SE Michigan? read on…







A Mighty Wind: Q&A with Jen Baird

While the U.S. is just starting to accept that wind power can help us move toward a more sustainable future, Ann Arbor-based Accio Energy is already reinventing the technology that harnesses it. Concentrate chats with Jen Baird, the company's CEO, about Wind Power 2.0, entrepreneurship, and what's next for Michigan's new economy. read on…





Founder Q&A: Bill Wagner and Dianne Marsh

With over 100 start-ups, Bill Wagner and Dianne Marsh of SRT Solutions see Ann Arbor as a worthy contender to Silicon Valley for talent and jobs. Concentrate gets the duo's view of employee-friendly work spaces, active learning, and the TED talks. read on…




Calif.-based InTouch Health sets up R&D operations in Ann Arbor

Let's all give a warm welcome to InTouch Health, the latest new economy-based startup to set up shop in Ann Arbor. The California-based robotics firm is setting up its research and development operations (after being recruited by Ann Arbor SPARK) in the Valley Ranch Business Park, which will be home to 3-4 people to start."It will begin with a software engineering team," says Dave Adornetto, CFO and executive vice president of operations at InTouch Health. "It will grow as the business grows."InTouch Health develops, manufactures, and markets robotics technology for the medical field. The 8-year-old firm has more than 50 patents pending. Its principal product is Remote Presence Technology, which provides physicians with a single interface for provide care into ICUs, patient wards, operating and procedure rooms, all on one network. InTouch Health employs 100 people and has recently received an investment from Farmington Hills-based venture capital firm Beringea. The company chose to set up its R&D operations in Ann Arbor because of its close proximity to the University of Michigan and its deep pool of engineering and robotics talent. It is also looking at setting up a large-scale manufacturing presence in Michigan.Source: Dave Adornetto, CFO and executive vice president of operations at InTouch HealthWriter: Jon ZemkeRead more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com. read on…

Business Insider ranks Ann Arbor as Top 20 Most Innovative City

Ann Arbor makes yet another list: This time Tree Town has been ranked as one of the Top 20 Most Innovative Cities in the U.S. by Business Insider. It joins the ranks of Raleigh, N.C., and Los Angeles.Excerpt:Are you having a mental block? Maybe it's not you, it's the city you're in.Innovation analysts at 2thinknow released a list of the most innovative cities in the world. They evaluated 289 cities based on three factors: cultural assets, human infrastructure, and networked markets.Cities were ranked on a one to ten scale in each category for a total possible index score of 30. Once index numbers were determined, cities were given the label of "node," "nexus," or "hub."Christopher Hire, executive director of 2thinknow, explains the process:"Cities that have a high index score are nexus cities, followed by hub then node cities. A node city is a globally "competitive" score, so all cities should aim to be node cities. Node means they are hooked into global networks and connected to the backbone of the global innovation economy.Read the rest of the story here. read on…

The Girl With the Curl: A Q&A with Lisa Kurek

Lisa Kurek has the kind of can-do, grab life by the horns attitude that inspires (and fascinates) the people around her. She channels that same energy and outlook toward local entrepreneurs as the director of Biotechnology Business Consultants, helping them to achieve their full start-up potential. Concentrate gets her views on entrepreneurship, scoring seed capital, and government grants. read on…

Velesco Pharmaceutical Services hires 6, opens plant in Kalamazoo

Six is an important number for Velesco Pharmaceutical Services these days in regard to its growth. The Ann Arbor-based firm has added six employees to its existing staff of six people over the last year. It also plans to hire six more within the next year.The 3-year-old startup began when Pfizer pulled up stakes from Ann Arbor, leaving the co-founders to pursue their own entrepreneurial ambitions. It now offers pharmaceutical consulting and laboratory services and just opened a plant in Kalamazoo that makes dosage forms for clinical trials. The company hopes to continue its revenue growth pace of 30-40 percent."It really depends on how the business goes and whether the economy cuts us a break," says Gerry Cox, COO of Velesco Pharmaceutical Services. "We're a small business that is working hard on growing."The company also recently moved to the Michigan Life Science Innovation Center in Plymouth. Ann Arbor SPARK manages the former Pfizer wet lab as a place to help get Washtenaw County startups going and growing.Source: Gerry Cox, COO of Velesco Pharmaceutical ServicesWriter: Jon ZemkeRead more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com. read on…

Velesco Pharmaceutical Services plans to double staff in Ann Arbor

In the bowels of Ann Arbor SPARK's wetlab incubator on Huron Parkway is a company composed of a happy little band of Pfizer refugees who are not only trying to make it, they're beginning to make it big. Say hello to Velesco Pharmaceutical Services, a firm started by ex-Pfizerites Gerry Cox and David Barnes. The two worked at Pfizer's Ann Arbor campus until the pharma giant decided not to work there anymore. The move prompted Cox and Barnes to round up a few of their co-workers and begin Velesco earlier this year. Today their company stands six people strong. "We saw a real opportunity to provide high-quality pharmaceutical consulting and laboratory services to companies," says Cox, who is now Velesco's Chief Operating Officer.The firm has taken on a number of clients in Michigan, and is now aiming for out of state contracts. Recognizing that most of the big pharmaceutical companies are located on the coasts, Velesco has aimed its focus east and west but remains committed to the Midwest. If all goes as planned, it expects to double the number of employees by the end of year. Source: Gerry Cox, chief operating officer for Velesco Pharmaceutical ServicesWriter: Jon Zemke read on…

Inc. gives 5 reasons to start a biz in Detroit

Inc. magazine comes through with a thorough piece on starting a business in Detroit and all of the opportunities that come with it. The story highlights newer entrepreneurs and taps the wisdom of those that have been here a while.Excerpt:There's no hiding the fact that the past decade hasn't been easy on the Motor City. Once a paragon of stability and the nation's fourth largest city, Detroit has seemed to fade alongside the auto industry on which it so vitally depends now sitting at 11th place on that very same list.In spite of the decline, those who stay refuse to see this as an anything other than an opportunity. With tons of open space, inexpensive rent, and legions of talented workers, the city was and is ripe for the kind of fresh and innovative thinking that drives new business. "Detroit needed to decrease its reliance on manufacturing," says Ross Sanders, CEO of Bizdom U, a local business accelerator formed in 2007. It needed to transform into a "brain economy," he adds, rooted in innovation and entrepreneurship.Read the rest of the story here. read on…

Velesco to invest $1.8 million, hire 35 people

Velesco Pharmaceutical Services is making another big investment in two of Michigan's smartest college towns, Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo.The Ann Arbor-based firm will utilize a $431,536 state tax credit over seven years to expand its laboratory space in the Ann Arbor area and open a new production facility in Kalamazoo. The $2 million investment is expected to create up to 35 jobs by 2014."This is a tremendous help for us to position us for success," says Gerry Cox, COO of Velesco Pharmaceutical Services.The four-person firm was formed by ex-Pfizerites Gerry Cox and David Barnes shortly after the pharmaceutical giant closed its Ann Arbor campus in 2007. It provides drug formulation, analytical chemistry and early stage clinical GMP supplies to emerging biotech and pharmaceutical companies. It works out of Ann Arbor SPARK's wet lab incubator in Plymouth. It plans to expand its presence in the Michigan Life Science and Innovation Center where it will perform analytical and drug formulation work. Velesco also planning to open a 10,000-square-foot production facility in the Kalamazoo Commerce Center. It will manufacture GMP clinical trial supplies for pharmaceutical companies that are developing new medicines. Source: Gerry Cox, chief operating officer for Velesco Pharmaceutical ServicesWriter: Jon Zemke read on…

Ypsilanti's RealKidz sells online, plans to hire

RealKidz is changing up its game and getting some points on the board with its new business plan.The 3-year-old firm, based in Ypsilanti's Depot Town, makes clothing that fits larger children, mainly girls. It started out selling these garments with direct sales, a la Mary Kay. It has since moved to a primary e-commerce platform after upgrading its website with a proven Internet retailing platform in August."We're starting to see some growth from that," says Merrill Guerra, founder and CEO of RealKidz. "We have doubled our website traffic and conversion rate over the last couple of months. It's moving exactly in the direction we were hoping."The two-person startup, also a former Ann Arbor SPARK East Incubator tenant, is now looking to raise a round of seed capital so it can flesh out its staff and business infrastructure. RealKidz hopes to hires a COO and webmaster, among other positions over the next year, with this capital.Source: Merrill Guerra, founder and CEO of RealKidzWriter: Jon Zemke read on…

Tech Brewery's uwemp plans to add 10-15 jobs

Ann Arbor-based Tech Brewery isn't just a place for local techies/entrepreneurs to congregate and create. It's now a place for techies/entrepreneurs from across Metro Detroit.One-year-old uwemp is a prime example of Tech Brewery's growing reach across southeast Michigan. The firm's CEO is out of Bloomfield Hills, but he choose to set up shop for his start-up in Ann Arbor because of infrastructure like the Tech Brewery."My view is that technology is what it's all about and I want to be near the people who know about technology," says Jordan Wolfe, CEO of uwemp. "Plus, Ann Arbor SPARK helped a lot, too."The main product from ewemp is Confidence-Based Learning, a web-based learning engine that uses a Google Analytics-style method that gives educators a better handle on how their students are and are not learning. The program can show when a student is beginning to catch on to a lesson, when the student masters it, and even when he or she wanders off. The idea is to provide educators with the pertinent information to best reach their students. The Michigan Microloan Fund program gave uwemp a five-figure loan earlier this summer. It plans to use that money to create the Beta version of its software and begin testing it with its first customers. The company hopes to hire 10-15 employees over the next year. It currently employs two people full-time and another three independent contractors.Source: Jordan Wolfe, CEO of uwempWriter: Jon Zemke read on…

Model D Speaker Series & Rotman Reception

Join us Oct. 13 at the Max M. Fisher Center to learn about innovative new initiatives fueling start-ups in Detroit. Mahendra Ramsinghani will talk about the First Step Fund, a unique partnership between Invest Detroit, TechTown and Ann Arbor SPARK to provide financing to emerging small businesses in southeast Michigan. We'll also hear from Brendan Calder, an innovation expert and venture capitalist from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. read on…

MyBandStock gets micro loan, spreads coast to coast

MyBandStock plans to spread its reach to both coasts via a micro loan from the Ann Arbor SPARK-administered Michigan Microloan Fund Program.The 2-year-old start-up focuses on connecting bands to their fans by selling shares in a band's album or giving fans a chance to get closer to the artists. The 6-person firm plans to use the micro loan, which is usually for about $50,000, to help pay for travel costs between Ann Arbor and the entertainment hubs on both coasts. "We're back and forth from Michigan and Los Angeles and New York," says Drew Leahy, co-founder of MyBandStock. "That money is going to help us meet more potential clients."The Ann Arbor-based firm recently opened an LA office and is signing clients in both New York and LA. The company plans to keep its headquarters and technology operations in Ann Arbor and make 2-3 hires over the next year.Source: Drew Leahy, co-founder of MyBandStockWriter: Jon Zemke read on…


U-M 1st in research spending, sets new tech records

The University of Michigan continues to serve as a pipeline for new economy research, start-ups, and the innovations they need to be successful. U-M has recently been declared No. 1 for R&D spending among the nation's public universities. That sort of investment has helped the university launch 10 start-ups, license 97 technologies, and record 290 new inventions over the last fiscal year. "The record (for new start-ups) is 13, but we average nine," says Ken Nisbet, executive director of office of Tech Transfer at the University of Michigan. "Ten isn't a record, but with the economy this year we are really proud of that number."The number of new technology licenses ties a record at U-M, which was set four years ago. And the 10 start-ups this year brings the university's total to 93 over the last decade. The university estimates those start-ups have created more than 2,000 jobs over the last 15 years. The start-ups include Histosonics, which was spun out of the university last year. The Ann Arbor-based company employs about a dozen people and has locked down $11 million in seed capital. HistoSonics (histo meaning tissue and sonics meaning sound waves) is developing a medical device that uses tightly focused ultrasound pulses to treat prostate disease. The idea is to create a non-invasive, image-guided system that can destroy tissue with robotic precision."It just has tremendous potential," Nisbet says.U-M plans to display some of its new start-ups and inventions at its annual Celebrate Invention reception between 3-6 p.m. today in the Michigan League Ballroom. For information, click here or reach Diane Brown at (734) 936-1572 or dibrown@umich.edu.Source: Ken Nisbet, executive director of office of Tech Transfer at the University of MichiganWriter: Jon Zemke read on…


Accelerate Michigan Student Idea Competition quarterbacks student entrepreneurs

The University of Michigan has some big expectations for the Accelerate Michigan Student Idea Competition, an offshoot of the inaugural Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition."It's a great opportunity for our students and the state of Michigan," says Doug Neal, managing director of the Center for Entrepreneurship in U-M's College of Engineering. "I'd love to see 1,000 students participate in Accelerate Michigan."That would put it on par with U-M's 1,000 Pitches competition, which attracted 2,065 participants in 2009; more are expected this year. Neal says the two competitions are quite similar because they both require students to primarily pitch business ideas.The Accelerate Michigan Student Idea Competition offers three prizes totaling $50,000. Any college student attending school in the state is eligible. Participants must submit a one-page business plan, a three-minute video pitch, and formulate a 15-minute live pitch. The deadline for applications is October 22. For information, click here.The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition is offering $1 million in prizes to start-ups in Michigan or planning to move to Michigan. The idea is to showcase the state's entrepreneurial ecosystem to a large audience of investors in town for the Big Chill hockey game at Michigan Stadium on Dec. 11. Source: Doug Neal, managing director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of MichiganWriter: Jon Zemke read on…

Ann Arbor tech firms lock down $1M in federal grants

More than $1 million in seed capital is heading toward three Ann Arbor-based start-ups, all Ann Arbor SPARK clients, thanks to federal grants.Akervall Technologies took in $120,000 from the U.S. Dept. of Defense Small Business Innovation Research program to develop the second generation of the Protech Dent mouth guard. Arbor Photonics received a $44,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant for its development of high power, single-emitter fiber laser modules with exceptional beam quality and narrow line width. However, the biggest winner is OG Technologies, which received nearly $1 million from the U.S. Dept of Energy. The 12-year-old company will use the $933,000 for the development of an optical caliper, a measurement tool for hot objects. Put simply, it's creating a camera that can take comprehensive pictures of extremely hot objects, such as newly made steel slabs. The new technology is expected to have primarily industrial uses. However, OG Technologies President Terry Liddy believes it has the potential for broader applications."We should have beta sites in steel mills within two years," Liddy says.He expects the grant, which should fund the rest of the technology's development, will allow the company to add to its staff of 11 employees and a couple of summer interns. The hope is the company will hire a handful of new staff, including engineers, assemblers, and salespersons.Source: Ann Arbor SPARK and Terry Liddy, president of OG Technologies Writer: Jon Zemke read on…

First Step Fund invests in 10 Metro Detroit start-ups

The number of loans from the First Step Fund has now hit double digits and is expected to go higher soon.The TechTown-based microloan fund has made small loans to 10 companies across southeast Michigan. Those companies range from the Jimmy Kicks custom shoe operation in Detroit to Ann Arbor-based grant writing software firm InfoReady. "We have been thrilled with the quality and quantity of applications," says Matthew Neagle, an associate with the First Step Fund.Among the other companies to receive loans so far are Clean Emission Fluids (Detroit), Current Motor Company (Ann Arbor), Launch Learning Group (Detroit), Livio Radio (Ferndale), NextCat (Detroit), Air Movement Systems (Detroit), Coliant Corporation, and Bandals (Rochester Hills). More than half a million dollars in loans have gone to these companies over the summer.Invest Detroit, TechTown and Ann Arbor SPARK, which runs the Michigan Micro Loan Fund, created the First Step Fund earlier this year. The idea is to create a funding source for local start-ups starving for seed capital. The current credit crisis has resulted in traditional lending institutions cutting back on investment capital.Each loan averages about $50,000 and is either short-term or in the form of a convertible note. Proceeds are usually used to push forward product development or expand inventory. Loan recipients are picked by a board independent of TechTown. Source: Matthew Neagle, an associate with the First Step FundWriter: Jon Zemke read on…

TCH Pharmaceuticals scores $200K in loans, retains ex-Pfizer talent

Ann Arbor-based TCH Pharmaceuticals will use a $200,000 loan from the state of Michigan to hire four people, all ex-Pfizer employees."These four will be the first employees of the company," says Thomas A Collet, president and CEO of TCH Pharmaceuticals.The 4-year-old company, currently staffed by its three co-founders, commercializes non-toxic proteasome inhibitors to be used in therapies that treat inflammatory diseases. It is using technology licensed from Michigan State University. "We have a family of compounds we want to take into clinical development," Collet says. "They would help us do that."TCH Pharmaceuticals (TCH is an acronym for the founders' last names) is one of five Michigan companies to share the most recent $530,000 in loans from the state's Company Formation and Growth Fund. That initiative began in 2007, shortly after Pfizer announced the closing of its Ann Arbor campus. It's aimed at keeping Pfizer's talent in-state by accelerating start-up formation and growth. The fund has made $8 million in loans to a total of 41 life-science companies in Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Jackson, Livonia, and Saline.Source: Thomas A Collet, president and CEO of TCH PharmaceuticalsWriter: Jon Zemke read on…

Hamztec wins $1M grant to research an end to hair pulling

Ann Arbor-based Hamztec has received a $1 million grant from the National Institute of Health. The company plans to use the proceeds for development of a product that will help people stop compulsively pulling their hair.The Ann Arbor SPARK client will use the grant to hire six people plus a handful of independent contractors. David Perlman, co-founder of Hamztec and its only employee, expects his start-up to commercialize its product within 2.5 years, a timeframe that could be as short as one year if the company attracts more investment.Hamztec was co-founded in 2007 by David Perlman and Joseph Himle, a professor of psychiatry and social work at the University of Michigan. The firm's principal product tracks and helps correct Trichotillomania, a disorder in which people compulsively pull out their own hair."Ninety percent of this behavior happens out of consciousness," Perlman says. "They would study or read a book, get up and there is a pile of hair there and they don't know how it got there."The product will track hand movement and set off an alarm when patients pull their hair. A specific code must then be entered to turn the alarm off. This technology also tracks and logs the behavior for analysis by mental health professionals.'This is the first method so a therapist knows behavior outside of the office," Perlman says.Source: David Perlman, co-founder of HamztecWriter: Jon Zemke read on…

Electrified: A Q&A with the Founders of Current Motors

John Harding and Erik Kauppi turned their tech co-op prototype into a microloan investment and now Current Motor Company is poised to achieve electric scooter world dominance. Okay, we're probably getting ahead of ourselves on that last part, but the duo's transition from Ford engineers into innovative entrepreneurs is a good indication that southeast Michigan has begun its economic evolution. read on…

Young & Entrepreneurial: A Q&A with Switchback

Offering a Word for the web solution for the pains of website maintenance are Mike Monan and Stephen Colson, the founders of Switchback, an internet business based on Drupal technology. This week they dish with Concentrate's Jon Zemke on downtown workspaces and the wilds of entrepreneurship. read on…


Detroit Electric car brand scores microloan

The future of the automobile got a little boost earlier this week when Detroit Electric received financing from the Michigan Microloan Fund Program.The Brighton-based start-up joined Ypsilanti's Ergun Technology and Ann Arbor-based Local Orbit in splitting $140,000 in microloans. The microloans help new economy-based start-ups push forward product development and commercialization.Detroit Electric is the oldest electric car brand in the U.S., getting its start in the early 20th Century. It went dormant until a few years ago, when it was revived by a Chinese firm to make electric cars. This microloan will help Detroit Electric's efforts to establish and grow its current two-man office into a world headquarters and technical center that employs hundreds of people. "We're trying to get started here in the U.S.," says Don Graunstadt, CEO of Detroit Electric's North American operations. "Cash is really important, but more important is the endorsement. The government did three months worth of due diligence on us." Own is the principal product for Ergun Technology. Own connects cash registers to the Internet, providing store owners real-time remote access to their transactions. The 4-person firm plans to use its loans to complete Beta testing of its product and begin marketing it to coffee shops across the state.Local Orbit is creating a web platform that simplifies the process of buying food directly from local farmers for restaurants, institutions, and consumers.The state-created Michigan Microloan Fund Program provides seed capital to growing new economy start-ups. The $1.4 million program, which is run by Ann Arbor SPARK, became instantly popular because of the lack of financing available in the wake of the financial crisis.Source: Ann Arbor SPARK and Don Graunstadt, CEO of Detroit Electric's North American OperationsWriter: Jon Zemke read on…

Ann Arbor Companies, Global Markets

It's less about world conquest and more about smart business. Ann Arbor firms are reaching out into the global marketplace and finding great success. Some even call the Mitten home but do little to no business here. read on…

Ann Arbor's International Welcome Mat

With nearly 20% of Ann Arbor's population speaking a foreign first language, the city's diversity is clearly rooted in immigration, international students, and global business development. So, how do we engage these strangers in a strange land? Enter SPARK's Cultural Ambassador program, an effort by local business leaders to attract and retain foreign-born talent. read on…
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