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Smart Lighting Solutions brings on new LED product lines

Ralph Petty was working in property management in 2009 when the economy was falling apart. He and a friend who worked at Ford looked at the job landscape and decided to make their own by starting Smart Lighting Solutions.

"Energy efficiency is something that intrigued both of us," Petty says.

The Shelby Township-based firm specializes in helping businesses improve their energy efficiencies, usually through replacing light with more efficient options.

"The big push is starting to go towards LED (lights)," Petty says. "We're installing at a bowling center on the east side of Detroit that will be all LED."

Smart Lighting Solutions is also bringing new products to its lineup by adding Juganu Lighting's LED lighting products. The LEDs allow for energy savings of up to 80 percent over traditional lighting, such as metal halide fixtures.
The company now has a staff of three people after hiring a sales professional in the last year. Petty expects his company to continue to grow as the firm focuses more of its efforts on outdoor facilities.

"Our biggest goal is to work with outdoor facilities like parking lots and parking structures," Petty says.

Source: Ralph Petty, principal of Smart Lighting Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

Rave Computer pushes STEM education with RAVE CAVE

Rave Computer is making a push into local education with the establishment of the Center for Automated Virtual Environments, commonly known as RAVE CAVE.

Rave Computer, the anchor tenant of the Macomb-OU INCubator, works in modeling, simulation and visualization software. The 26-year-old firm has made three replacement hires over the last year and is looking to add another three people to its staff of 35 employees. It launched RAVE CAVE last year, taking a 3-D immersion cave out of storage at TARDEC and repurposing it as an educational tool to get more local students interested in science, technology, engineering and math.

"I really enjoy STEM and being involved in the community," says Rick Darter, founder & CEO of Rave Computer. "I thought this is a great way to give back."

RAVE CAVE is a Reconfigurable, Automated, Virtual Environment, powered by a five-system cluster that was configured, built and installed by Rave Computer engineers. The system enables the users to experience visualization software and how it is used in the creation and design of new products.

"There are a lot of teaching tools that you can use to demonstrate why math is important. Why (information technology) is important," says Art Adlam, president of RAVE CAVE.

RAVE CAVE has hosted close to 500 local students, ranging from grade school to college students, with the bulk of the number coming from local high schools. The non-profit gives tours of the technology and also hosts workshops. It hopes to ramp up its usage over the next year, adding things like college courses and summer camps.

"We'd like to (host) as many (students) as possible," Adlam says.

Source: Rick Darter, founder & CEO of Rave Computer, and Art Adlam, president of RAVE CAVE
Writer: Jon Zemke

Saphran Solutions launches CapacityBase software platform

Data is everywhere. Often it's in random places, jumbled together in a slop of 1s and 0s that doesn't make much sense to the casual observer. Saphran Solutions is creating software that puts all of that data into proper perspective.

The Franklin-based business creates software platforms that help automotive suppliers and other manufacturers achieve efficiencies by narrowing the gap between business planning and performance.

Its newest proprietary software program, CapacityBase, does that by simulating and evaluating multiple product-demand scenarios to map out the user's short- and long-term capital investment plans to maximize returns. Think of it as a system that enables manufacturers to more effectively manage assets, avoid future risk and reduce costs.

"Essentially we connect the information the company already has and use it to streamline its operations to meet capacity," says Don Stilwell, vice president of sales & business development for Saphran Solutions.

The 10-year-old company employs 20 people. That team will work to aggressively market this new software platform to manufacturers.

"We are looking at adding additional people as we ramp up," Stilwell says.

Source: Don Stilwell, vice president of sales & business development for Saphran Solutions
Writer: Jon Zemke

WorkForce Software takes big drink from Ann Arbor talent pool

Two years ago, WorkForce Software opened up a satellite office in downtown Ann Arbor with an idea of using it as a talent magnet.

Today it employs 17 people and is moving to a bigger office in the center of Tree Town. It has hired nine people, all software development jobs, over the last year for its Ann Arbor office.

"We've done a very good job of finding talent," says Ken Olson, vice president of product development for WorkForce Software.

WorkForce Software makes management software for large-scale employers. The Livonia-based company added the Ann Arbor office because of the city’s depth of existing talent and the production of new talent that comes from the University of Michigan. The urban atmosphere also opened up the company to a new world of talent it needed to tap.

"It's really important to have an office that is walkable and accessible by buses and bikes," Olson says. "As soon as we opened the downtown Ann Arbor office we got a flood of interest."

WorkForce Software is taking the seventh floor of the Key Bank building at the corner of Main and Huron streets. The 3,400 square feet is roughly double the size of its original downtown Ann Arbor office.

"The view is nice," Olson says. "We have the entire top floor."

Source: Ken Olson, vice president of product development for Workforce Software
Writer: Jon Zemke

German 3-D printing company chooses Canton for first U.S. facility

3-D printing, a fast-growing technology, has expanded what's possible in a wide range of fields from art to medicine to automotive. And now a 3-D printing company from overseas is now opening a Canton location.


"A German 3-D printing company has announced it will locate its first U.S. facility in Michigan after representatives met with Gov. Rick Snyder in Germany.

Friedberg-based Voxeljet uses large-format 3-D printers to create automotive parts and molds. Snyder met with Voxeljet's chief executive during the governor's second trade trip to Europe this week."

More here

Coliant forms partnership with Harley-Davidson

Coliant, a local startup, is forming a partnership with a name-brand corporation, Harley Davidson, to produce the next big thing in motorcycle gear: microclimate technology.

The Warren-based startup’s newly-developed personal climate-control technology, i.e. Smart Clothing system, works to keep users warm while riding motorcycles and other similar vehicles, like ATVs. Coliant plans to ship its first units to Harley Davidson late next year.

"We're trying to set the standard in this industry, open-cabin vehicles," says John Swiatek, CEO of Coliant.

The 10-year-old company has been producing accessory technology for outdoors vehicles for years. Its Powerlet brand is an electrical accessory in the powersport industry that allows users of motorcycles and ATVs to plug their gadgets into the vehicle. Coliant won the $25,000 prize in the Next Generation Manufacturing category at the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition last fall for its technological innovations.

"The technology has advanced," Swiatek says. "Our customers are evolving."

Which has meant the company has shaken up its staff. It hired two new executives over the last year, including a president and head of business development. Right now the team is focused on its microclimate technology for clothing.

"This is the largest project we're undertaking at the moment," Swiatek says.

Source: John Swiatek, CEO of Coliant
Writer: Jon Zemke

NeuMoDx Molecular scores $21M in Series B round

NeuMoDx Molecular has $21 million more in its coffers now that the Ann Arbor-based startup has secured a Series B round of financing.

The investment round in the diagnostics company was led by Pfizer Ventures. Other local venture capital investors included Baird Capital, Venture Investors, Arboretum Ventures and the Wolverine Venture Fund. The startup, helmed by veteran local CEO Jeff Williams, also secured $5 million in a Series A in 2012.

"It helps to have an experienced CEO," says Erik Gordon, a professor of entrepreneurship and strategy who oversees the student-run Wolverine Venture Fund at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business. "We also did a lot of research in the molecular science space."

NeuMoDx Molecular is developing a new platform for high volume, low-cost molecular testing. The company’s patent-pending technology integrates magnetic particle affinity capture and real time polymerase chain reaction chemistry in a multi-sample microfluidic cartridge. That enables NeuMoDx Molecular’s platform to speed up molecular testing, processing about 500 samples every eight hours.

NeuMoDx Molecular is currently going through clinical trials and working to secure regulatory approval, which the new round of funding will make possible.

Source: Erik Gordon, professor of entrepreneurship and strategy at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business
Writer: Jon Zemke

Avegant raises $1.9M in investment, $1.5M in crowdfunding

Most startups are excited to have seven figures worth of seed capital coming in. Avegant has managed to score two in its first year.

The downtown Ann Arbor-based startup has raised $1.9 million in a Seed Round. It also raised $1.5 million from a crowdfunding campaign earlier this year. And all of these people willing to throw money at the company can’t wait to see its night-vision technology.

"We smashed our (crowdfunding) goal (of $250,000) in a matter of three hours," says Edward Tang, CEO of Avegant.

Avegant co-founders Tang and Allan Evans met at the University of Michigan. They were approached by military contractors about creating better night-vision equipment for military drivers during wartime. Soldiers were experiencing better results using thermal night vision while driving. The problem was the display was in their vehicle’s dash instead of over their eyes.

Tang and Evans found that the computer screen and eye fatigue often downgraded the viewing quality. In response they created a night-vision goggle that projected the image directly on the users eye, providing a big step forward in picture quality.

"It was a higher picture quality that I had ever seen before," Tang says.

Avegant's team of 11 employees and one intern has created three different evolutions of the prototype since landing the $1.9 million in a Seed Round last August. The Michigan Angel Fund, an angel investment group, led that investment round. Tang expects to ship the first commercial units of the night-vision goggles before the end of the year.

"We're considering doing pre-orders on the website," Tang says. "It's going really well."

Source: Edward Tang, CEO of Avegant
Writer: Jon Zemke

University of Michigan, Virginia profs team up to create PsiKick

Professors from the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia have spun out technology from their respective universities to create a new venture-backed startup, PsiKick.

Startups pulling technologies from a number of different universities isn't unheard of. However, fledgling companies taking technology from premier research institutions doesn’t happen often.

"It might be more rare that it's this equal (the standing of the research universities supplying the technology)," says Mark Maynard, marketing manager for the Office of Technology Transfer at the University of Michigan. He adds that the contribution of each university's technology is "pretty right down the middle."

David Wentzloff and Benton Calhoun met while attending graduate school at MIT. After graduate school they went back to their respective alma maters to start teaching careers. Wentzloff is an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at U-M and Calhoun is an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the UVa.

The friends came together in 2012 to launch PsiKick, which now has offices in Ann Arbor and Virginia. PsiKick is developing an ultra-low-power wireless sensor that is capable of operating on 1/100th to 1/1000th of the power budget of other low-power integrated circuit platforms. That enables the chip to be powered without the help of a battery, instead relying on vibration, thermal gradients, solar, radio frequency or piezo actuation for energy sources.

PsiKick's chip conducted continuous EKG monitoring and detection of atrial fibrillation. Wireless updates each second were sent by radio, all operating continuously and powered by body heat using a small thermoelectric generator on a body with no battery at all in the system. The lack of a battery means the chip can be used in a number of harsh environments.

"The implications could be enormous for several industries," Maynard says.

PsiKick recently closed on a Series A round of funding to help further develop the technology. The investment was led by New Enterprise Associates. Other investors include MINTS, a U-M venture fund, and Osage University Partners.

Source: Mark Maynard, marketing manager for the Office of Tech Transfer at the University of Michigan
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Dimensional Control Systems adds more staff, service offerings

Now that domestic manufacturing is on the rise, companies like Dimensional Control Systems are reaping some of the benefits, such as adding service offerings and staff.

The Troy-based quality assurance company has carved out its niche over 20 years helping manufacturers streamline their operations and introduce new technology that makes the building process leaner. The company now has a staff of 75 employees and two interns handling this work. It has hired three people over the last year, including two software developers and one sales professional.

"We like to hire people we know," says Ben Reese, marketing specialist for Dimensional Control Systems. "We hire a lot of people through referrals."

Dimensional Control Systems got its start in consulting for local manufacturers and eventually moved into the tech side of the business. Now it's expanding into more work in end-of-the-line manufacturing and managing big data for local auto suppliers.

"It's a whole new side of our business," Reese says.

Source: Ben Reese, marketing specialist for Dimensional Control Systems
Writer: Jon Zemke

Parjana's technology accelerates Earth's water filtration

Parjana Distribution's clean-water technology isn't trying to reinvent the way cleaning H2O is done in nature. It just wants to accelerate the process.

The downtown Detroit-based startup is commercializing a filtration technology that cleans contaminated water through the earth’s natural ground filtration system. Water in underground aquifers ends up there after gravity takes it through the different layers of ground. The dirt filters out contaminates and creates potable water, similar to how a Brita filter works.

"We're just using mother nature," says Gregory McPartlin, co-founder & managing partner with Parjana Distribution. "Our technology is not doing the work. Our technology is the key that allows us to use the earth as Mother Nature intended but faster."

Parjana Distribution technology, Energy-Passive Groundwater Recharge Parjana, speeds the rate of infiltration by first utilizing waters properties of adhesion and cohesion to attract the water into the pumps chambers, filling the chambers.

"All currently drainage is done through positive pressure," McPartlin says. "We want to do it through negative pressure."

Parjana Distribution's technology was first developed by Andrew Niemczyk, a mechanical engineer from Hamtranck, in 2004. This technology is now employed at 150 sites around the world, including Detroit, Ohio, New York, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.

Parjana Distribution was one of the first investments for Oakland Energy and Water Ventures, a Farmington Hills-based investment firm. Parjana Distribution currently has a staff of 10 employees, 10 independent contractors and two interns. It has hired five people in the last year. It recently moved into bigger office (1,000-square-feet to 4,000-square-feet) in downtown Detroit.

"We want to be part of the rebirth of Detroit," McPartlin says.

Source: Gregory McPartlin, co-founder & managing partner with Parjana Distribution
Writer: Jon Zemke

Marketing Associates adds 50 people to staff

Marketing Associates has hired dozens of people over the last year while one of the downtown Detroit-based firm’s divisions partners with one of data analytics bigger movers and shakers.

Magnify Analytic Solutions, a division of Marketing Associates, entered into a strategic partnership with Cloudera. The Silicon Valley-based data analytics firm will be able to utilize Magnify Analytic Solutions’ data scientists and web hosting capabilities. In return, Magnify will have access to Cloudera’s open-source software platform Apache Hadoop and Cloudera's Fortune 500-filled client list.

"It (Cloudera) is the market leading data management firm for the big data movement," says Mark Petroff, president & CEO of Marketing Associates.

Magnify Analytic Solutions is one of the primary drivers of Marketing Associates growth (revenue is up 15 percent) over the last year. The Magnify Analytic Solutions division has hired a dozen people over the last year and currently employs 56 people. "It's a combination of Magnify’s analytic’s capabilities and its technology services," Petroff says.

That has allowed Marketing Associates to hire 50 people in the last year. Those hires include positions in data analytics, IT, web development and creative. The firm currently has a staff of 262 employees and a handful of interns.

Marketing Associates was founded in 1967 and moved to downtown Detroit in 2007. It has added a number of new clients in recent years, including Whirlpool and KitchenAid.

"We have diversified our business outside of automotive," Petroff says.

Source: Mark Petroff, president & CEO of Marketing Associates
Writer: Jon Zemke

Benzinga adds financial products, 5 new employees

Benzinga is growing in more than just a few ways these days. The Southfield-based startup is adding more products to diversify its revenue, hiring staff and possibly looking for a new home later this year.

Benzinga, which will turn four years-old in May, got its start providing financial news with a twist, adding ideas that stock market day traders and other investors can use to profit from the day's headlines. It quickly locked down $2 million worth of seed capital from Lightbank, the venture capital firm founded by Groupon’s co-founders. That enabled Benzinga to grow its staff and services. It’s not just a publication anymore. Think of it more as a technology company.

"We're a very flat organization," says Jason Raznick, CEO of Benzinga. "I gave a TEDx speech about a madeup word called Doarchy."

Combine the word "do" and "hierarchy" and you’ll have an idea about what Raznick is talking about. Benzinga empowers its employees to turn their passions into businesses and revenue streams. That means today Benzinga's main three revenue streams come from subscriptions to its news service, licensing the software it creates and Marketfy, which is a financial education platform.

"What we're really great at is creating something from nothing," Raznick says. "Marketfy didn’t exist a year ago. Now it’s generating crazy revenue."

Those sorts of innovations come from Benzinga’s staff of 27 employees and five interns. It has hired five people in the last year, including a new COO and software developers. There are four openings for software developers, marketing professionals and UIX designers.

Raznick is also looking to bring in more talent with roots in Michigan who are looking to move back to the Great Lakes State. To help accomplish that he is considering moving his company when the lease to its current home is up this summer. He is thinking about downtown Detroit or downtown Ann Arbor to help make it easier to attract young, technology-inclined talent.

"We're not sure what we’re going to do," Raznick says. "We need a cool environment."

Source: Jason Raznick, CEO of Benzinga
Writer: Jon Zemke

Grand Angels sinks seed capital into ProNAi Therapeutics

Grand Angels is reaching across the Great Lakes State to plunk down some serious seed capital for one of Metro Detroit’s promising startups.

The Grand Rapids-based angel investor group has invested in ProNAi Therapeutics. The Plymouth-based biotech startup is developing a novel and proprietary DNAi drug technology platform to help fight cancer. It has enjoyed recent success with safely treating Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma patients in clinical trials.

The group has also invested in Ann Arbor-based Local Orbit, which is developing software that helps connect food producers (think farmers, co-ops and farmers markets) with grocers, restaurants and other eateries.

"Our applicants are roughly split between each side of the state," says Jody Vanderwel, president of Grand Angels. "We even have some from the northern part of the state."

Grand Angels launched a decade ago with the idea of focusing its investment on startups in the Grand Rapids area. Within a few years it expanded that focus to include the entire state of Michigan to enhance its deal flow. It started adding more members after making that decision, and now adds 3-4 new angel investors each year. The current membership stands at 48 high-net-worth individuals.

Source: Jody Vanderwel, president of Grand Angels
Writer: Jon Zemke

Woodward Asset Capital acquires Homesource Realtors

Woodward Asset Capital has acquired Homesource Realtors with the idea of growing not as a real-estate brokerage, but as a technology firm.

The Southfield-based firm has developed a software platform called OfferSubmission that aims to sell properties faster and for maximum value. The seven-year-old company sees Homesource Realtors as the outlet for that platform.

"As the default market has changed we see an opportunity to disrupt the market with our technology," says Ron Jasgur, president of Woodward Asset Capital.

The first step was acquiring the real-estate brokerage. The second was rebranding it as SellerNation. The third, rebuilding the rebranded brokerage around the software platform that focuses on the seller experience.

Seller Nation’s OfferSubmission platform focuses on the seller side of the transaction. The idea is to bring in as many offers as quickly as possible. "It allows us to receive multiple offers and negotiate with them instead of waiting for offers to come in one at a time," Jasgur says.

Homesource made a name for itself as a discount brokerage. Jasgur is moving SellerNation away from that. "It really doesn’t fit into what we do," Jasgur says. He expects to roll out SellerNation across the country over the next 24 months.

Woodward Asset Capital currently employs 11 people. It has hired two more in customer service in the last year, and he sees more job postings in the company’s near future.

"With this acquisition we expect to hire another 6-8 in the next few months," Jasgur says.

Source: Ron Jasgur, president of Woodward Asset Capital
Writer: Jon Zemke
958 emerging technology Articles | Page: | Show All
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