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Ann Arbor-made Stratos card put to the test

Wired takes the all-cards-in-one Stratos credit card out for a spin… and is impressed with what it can do. 

Excerpt:

"There are a thousand upsides to a card like Stratos, even beyond finally ditching your gigantic George Costanza wallet. It can make sure you actually use your gift cards, or make getting a loyalty card totally automatic. It’s much more secure than a standard credit card, for a variety of reasons. If you lose it, just shut it off—you don’t need to cancel the individual cards themselves. It even uses Bluetooth to warn you if you left it in the check-holder, and will shut off if you get too far away."

Read the rest here.

Mountain Pass Solutions streamlines faculty hiring process

Managing a major research institution is in no easy task. Too much of the time, it's maddeningly inefficient. A University of Michigan spin-out believes it has a way to simplify and streamline at least one aspect of an institution's responsibilities.

Mountain Pass Solutions has created a web-based platform that manages the hiring, credentialing and on-boarding of university faculty. It also helps manage faculty workflow so the user can optimize things like document creation and the size of their support staff.

The U-M Venture Accelerator-based startup got its start when Deb Komorowski, a director of faculty affairs administration & finance for U-M Medical School, saw the inefficiency of bringing on new staff and faculty. She created the platform and got it noticed by the University of Michigan Office of Technology Transfer.

"It was pretty obvious that what Deb built was satisfying a big need on the market," says Dave Morin, interim CEO of Mountain Pass Solutions.

The 1-year-old startup now employs five people and is further developing its platform with early customers, such as Central Michigan University. The bootstrapped startup plans to start scaling up its client base later this year.

"We will be looking at some rapid U.S. expansion this year," Morin says.

Source: Chris King, Deb Komorowski and Dave Morin, co-founder of Mountain Pass Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

MagWerks LED develops cutting edge light technology

LED lights have a reputation as being lean, mean, and ultra-energy-efficient. The reality is, however, that the less energy they use, the heavier they become. It's a challenge that's keeping LED lights from reaching their full potential.

"It's a largely unknown subject but an important one," says Michael Pickholz, CEO of MagWerks LED.

The Oxford-based startup believes it has an answer for that dilemma. The LED lighting design and engineering firm’s technology aims to make high-powered LED lights smaller, lighter, and cooler. The first target market is automotive lights. MagWerks technology leverages the structural properties of magnesium, which is 20 times stronger than plastics.

"It brings a vast improvement in performance," Pickholz says. "It makes it lighter and brighter."

The 3-person firm has recently joined Automation Alley's 7Cs program, which helps new companies leverage advanced manufacturing practices to grow their business.

"There is a need," Pickholz says. "How can you grow a company fast enough to satisfy that need?"

Source: Michael Pickholz, CEO of MagWerks LED
Writer: Jon Zemke

Functional Fluidics leverages WSU tech for new contract research

Dr. Patrick Hines has long been fascinated with blood analysis. He has used flow-based platforms to do blood analysis since he was a grad student in North Carolina.

That history and his wife taking a residency at the University of Michigan Health System led Dr. Hines to Detroit where he is launching a life sciences startup, Functional Fluidics.

"I was most comfortable with the opportunities here in Detroit, working Children's Hospital of Michigan and laboratories at Wayne State University," Dr. Hines says.

The 1-year-old startup is licensing technology spun out of Wayne State University that is enabling it to do expedited contract research of blood analysis for pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Hines and his team have developed a novel assay that allows the user to quantify the amount of adhesion and thrombosis in a sample of whole blood under physiologic flow conditions. The use of a patient's whole blood allows for a more accurate result. It is used in sickle cell research and blood platelet work.

The TechTown-based startup currently employs a team of five people. It is currently getting ready to raise a seed capital round to further its work.

"We are planning to raise between $500,000 and $1 million to grow this business and finance new product development," says John Cunningham, COO of Functional Fluidics.

Source: Patrick Hines, founder & CEO of Functional Fluidics; and John Cunningham, COO of Functional Fluidics
Writer: Jon Zemke

H3D expands camera tech to more nuclear plants around world

H3D has spent much of the last year becoming a global player, selling its camera technology internationally.

"We have sold our cameras to close to 20 nuclear power plants around the world," says Zhong He, chairman of H3D.

Zhong is also a professor of nuclear engineering and radiological sciences at the University of Michigan. He has been working on H3D’s camera technology since the late 1990s, spinning out the company four years ago.

H3D's Polaris H technology is a hand-held radiation camera that helps nuclear plant operators find potentially dangerous hot spots and leaky fuel rods with more speed and precision. It accomplishes this by laying a gamma-ray map over an image of a room, allowing it to pinpoint radiation sources.

H3D's has seen dramatic sales gains without a marketing budget. It also has landed two Department of Defense contracts. All of these wins are coming primarily through word-of-mouth advertising from the company's customers. The increased roster of clients has allowed the company to hire four people (engineers) over the last year, expanding its staff to nine people. It is also looking to hire another engineer if the right candidate comes around.

"We are financially quite sound," He says.

Source: Zhong He, chairman of H3D
Writer: Jon Zemke

Arborlight scores $1.7M in seed capital for LED tech

Arborlight is looking to increase the firepower of its business this year, and the Ann Arbor-based startup has a lot of dry powder to commit to that effort. The LED light company just raised $1.7 million seed round led by the Michigan Angel Fund. That cash will go toward commercializing its LightWell and further its sales reach across the U.S.

"We have a lot of market pull right now," says Michael Forbis, CEO of Arborlight. "People are calling us from all over the country."

The University of Michigan spinout is developing a sun-light-like LED light for both residential and commercial buildings. Its "daylight emulation system" utilized an energy-efficient LED light that can imitate sunlight down to the color, temperature, and other subtle details. It even has the ability to mimic the sunlight exposure outside by tapping into the local weather forecast. Check out a video on it here.

The 5-year-old company currently employs five people and the occasional intern. It has hired two people over the last year and it is looking to hire two more in production positions right now. Arborlight also plans to pass the $1 million revenue milestone this year, and go well beyond it in in the near future.

"We think we can hit $4 million in a couple of years from now," Forbis says.

Source: Michael Forbis, CEO of Arborlight
Writer: Jon Zemke

Sakti3 leverages $20M Series C, including $15M from Dyson

Sakti3 has closed on a eight-figure Series C round of seed capital to help develop and commercialize its lithium ion battery technology.

The Ann Arbor-based startup closed on a $20 million Series C earlier this month. That investment includes a $15 million investment from Dyson, the vacuum cleaner company. Sakti3 now has a broad range of investors including General Motors and Khosla Ventures.

"We think this is a huge development for Sakti3," says Ann Marie Sastry, CEO of Sakti3. "The Dyson partnership is critically important for our growth and first entry into the market."

Sakti3 spun out of the University of Michigan seven years ago looking to help lithium ion battery technology take a big step forward. Sakti3's technology claims to offer double the energy density of today’s commercial cells at half the price. It has been targeted for the automotive industry but Dyson sees potential in it for its handheld vacuum cleaners.

Sastry says her startup employs less than two dozen people and is hiring. She declined to say how many jobs it has open or how many people it has hired over the last year.

Source: Ann Marie Sastry, CEO of Sakti3
Writer: Jon Zemke

Plymouth-based Algal Scientific scores $7M in Series B

Algal Scientific recently secured a Series B round of investment worth $7 million. The Plymouth-based biotech startup plans to use the money to commercialize algae-based chemicals that help wean livestock farmers from over using antibiotics on their animals.

"The $7 million is a great thing," says Geoff Horst, CEO of Algal Scientific. "We're seeing a lot of interest from the agricultural industry."

The 6-year-old startup launched by developing a wastewater treatment system that uses algae to remove nutrients from contaminated water. The leftovers would become the raw materials for biofuel production. It won the grand prize of the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition a few years ago and has since raised a combined $10 million in seed capital, including the most recent Series B.

The latest investment was led by Formation 8, with additional participation from Evonik Industries and Independence Equity. Algal Scientific has also received extensive help from the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

"Without them we certainly wouldn't be where we are right now," Horst says.

Algal Scientific is now focused on developing agriculture solutions, such as the massive overuse of antibiotics in food supply. Its principal product, Algamune, is the world’s first beta glucan commercially produced from algae, which can be introduced into the diets of livestock and poultry to naturally support the animals' immune systems without relying on antibiotics.

"We have been really ramping up production of the algae," Horst says.

The company has hired five people over the last year. It now employs a staff of 14 employees and the occasional intern.

Source: Geoff Horst, CEO of Algal Scientific
Writer: Jon Zemke

Eagle Thread Verifer aims to diversify client base

The five-person team behind the Eagle Thread Verifer has some big plans to diversify what has primarily been an automotive industry company.

The Sterling Heights-based firm's principal product is a patented automatic thread gauge that catches 99 percent of all thread problems in any manufacturing process, such as removing weld spatter in projected welded nuts. It is designed to operate in the rigorous production environment of automotive industry plants, preventing improperly tapped parts from reaching final assembly.

But the company wants to market its product to customers beyond the automotive industry.

"It can apply to all industries that drill or use tap holes," says Gordon Taylor, president of Eagle Thread Verifer.

Eagle Thread Verifier got its start in 1990 when the father-son team of Alphonso and Thomas Peplinski started tinkering with the idea of an automatic thread gauge verification system in their engineering design shop, Eagle Design. It came to the market just before Alphonso Peplinski's death in 2004 when it was installed at American Axle & Manufacturing.

Taylor, a long time sales engineer for the company, succeeded Alphonso Peplinski. Taylor and his team are looking to begin selling this tool’s services more thoroughly to Tier 1 auto suppliers and into more industries, such as oil-and-gas and wind energy.

"There is no end to the use of this tool," Taylor says. "It used to be just about autos."

Source: Gordon Taylor, president of Eagle Thread Verifer
Writer: Jon Zemke

5 'tech titans' have strong ties to Michigan

Of the 23 "titans" listed in this compendium of tech giants, more than 20 percent have strong ties to the Mitten. And more than a couple are U-M grads.

Excerpt:

"... we've profiled 23 tech titans with Midwest roots, whether they earned their degrees here or were born-and-bred. Yes, each founder and executive eventully left for the coast, but if the region continues to build out its individual tech hubs, the surrounding states will start to retain the game-changing innovators - like Marc Andreesen, Larry Page, Jack Dorsey, and more - that it's consistenly seeding. "

Read the list here.

G2 Consulting Group hires 10, looks to hire 10 more

When the Great Recession hit, G2 Consulting Group adapted by integrating more technology into its business model. It was a successful strategy and the firm grew significantly in the years that followed. Today it’s using that same philosophy to keep growing.

The Troy-based construction firm specializes in environmental and geotechnical engineering services. (Think of it as doing the construction work that takes place below the ground, such as soil testing.) The addition of technology, such as remote monitoring of solar panels or sensors at the I-94/I-69 interchange that track vibration, has become an integral part of the company's work.

"We're just using more technology to get the data," says Noel Hargrave-Thomas, principal of G2 Consulting Group.

The firm opened a satellite office in Ann Arbor last year and now has a staff of 46 employees and five interns. It has hired 10 people over the last year.

"We're looking to hire 10 more," Hargrave-Thomas says.

The driving force behind those new hires is revenue growth. G2 Consulting Group's revenue spiked 43 percent in 2014, which is up from 31 percent growth in 2013 and 20 percent growth the year before.

"We're on pace to continue that growth," Hargrave-Thomas says.

Source: Noel Hargrave-Thomas, principal of G2 Consulting Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

PeachWorks scores $4M in VC, opens Southfield HQ

Software startup PeachWorks has landed a few million dollars seed capital and is opening its first headquarters in Southfield this spring.

The 8-year-old company, formerly known as WhenToManage, provides cloud-based software for the restaurant management industry. Its $4 million Series A was led by Indiana-based Allos Ventures. Other early stage venture capital firms participating in the round are Ann Arbor-based Huron River Ventures, Florida-based Arsenal Venture Partners, and downtown Detroit-based Invest Detroit.

"We're rolling out a new general product and platform," says Mark Symonds, CEO of PeachWorks. "We're also building out staff and marketing."

PeachWorks principal product is a subscription-based software platform for restaurants. The platform handles recipe and inventory management, point-of-sale analytics, and staff scheduling. It can be used by restaurants, hospitality businesses, speciality retailers, and food service markets.

"Our sweet spot is fast casual, casual, and fine dinning," Symonds says.

Symonds recently joined PeachWorks as CEO after serving as the CEO of Plex Systems, a software firm that specializes in cloud ERP for manufacturers. He says PeachWorks had been more virtually based before this year with staff spread across the U.S. Metro Detroit contained the highest concentration of those staff. The company currently employs 35 people after hiring eight over the last year. It is currently looking to add another six people.

"Southfield is centrally located," Symonds says. "We also have an office in downtown Ann Arbor."

Source: Mark Symonds, CEO of PeachWorks
Writer: Jon Zemke

Pixel Velocity scores $10M in Series B round

Pixel Velocity has landed $10 million in seed capital thanks to a Series B round of investment in the image processing and data analytics startup.

"They're really well-positioned in an area that combines data from sensors and data analytics," says Jonathan Murray, managing director of the Ann Arbor office of Draper Triangle Ventures, which also participated in Pixel Velocity’s Series B.

The Ann Arbor-based company creates sensor technology that helps provide safety, security and operational continuity solutions to commercial and government facilities. Its imagery and data analytic tools help protect users from accidental or natural threats, such as leaks, spills or intrusion. The company is planning to expand into the oil and gas market this year.

Money from the Series B will fund the Pixel Velocity’s revenue growth and expanding operations by adding more working capital to its bottom line. That money will help do everything from adding inventory to expanding its staff. The company has hired 10 people over the last year, including positions in executive management, software development, and hardware engineers. It currently employs 17 people and the occasional intern.

"We will also be doing some work on our branding," Grisham says.

Source: Heather Grisham, COO of Pixel Velocity, and Jonathan Murray, managing director of the Ann Arbor office of Draper Triangle Ventures
Writer: Jon Zemke

KTISIS doubles staff as it develops natural gas technology

KTISIS is a growing startup that is both diversifying Metro Detroit's economy and catering to its strongest economic asset..

"We are catering to the natural gas industry, especially transportation," says Stephen Chue, principal of KTISIS.

The Sterling Heights-based company offers consulting services dealing with alternative fuels and technologies.  It’s currently working on a gas tank for automobiles that would facilitate both liquified and compressed natural gas. Currently vehicles that run on natural gas are only able to utilize one or the other.

"We'll be able to break down that barrier," Chue says.

The KTISIS natural gas tank is currently in the development phase while the company tests a prototype at the Macomb-OU INCubator. It recently received a $15,000 grant from the state of Michigan to push along this development.

"The target is to role it out before the end of the year," Chue says.

KTISIS currently employs five people after hiring an engineer and a technician over the last year. It is currently looking to hire another engineer and a marketing professional.

Source: Stephen Chue, principal of KTISIS
Writer: Jon Zemke

How Ann Arbor's Skyspecs got off the ground

Ann Arbor-based drone firm Skyspecs lays out the story of its path to investment and product development in Crains' interesting business series, "Startup diaries," analyzing how new metro Detroit businesses find their feet.

Excerpt:

"But these startups hardly have it easy. They slog through early years developing often-complicated technology and spending just as much time chasing money. It's a drawn-out, gambling lead-up to one day having sales that reward the effort. 

SkySpecs launched on paper in 2012, but that was just one small first step. The company's first few years were spent honing its product and chasing money, whether at business plan competitions or from investors. "

Read the rest here.
 
958 emerging technology Articles | Page: | Show All
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