Roundup: Hacker Fellows, Cleantech Open, Seelio, MLSIC, More

Here’s a look at news from around Michigan’s innovation community:

Invest Detroit and Grand Circus, part tech school and part community center, are seeking applicants for a new Hacker Fellows program, which places software developers in jobs at Michigan start-ups. Graduating seniors with computer-related degrees from accredited universities will be selected for a six-week session of hands-on training at Grand Circus’s classroom in Detroit. After they complete the course, they’ll be placed for the rest of the year with a startup and given a salary of $60,000.

“Michigan start-ups are constantly looking to fill top developer talent for their companies,” Grand Circus founder Bradley Hoos said.

The application deadline for the next round of Hacker Fellows is Jan. 23.

—The University of Michigan hopes to measure the effect of research funding on the economy and scientific progress with its new new Institute for Research on Innovation and Science, scheduled to start up in January.

The institute follows efforts by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation to gather the data and tools that can measure the impact of federal R&D dollars. Seed funding for the institute was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Kauffman Foundation.

—Three Michigan startups were named accelerator finalists in the Cleantech Open at the Midwest Innovation Summit, held last week in Minneapolis. Black Pine Engineering, based in Midland, won a breakthrough technology award for its low-cost, corrosion resistant, modular turbomachinery. Calumet’s Neuvokas Corporation was the sustainability winner for its fiber-reinforced rebar, with costs comparable to steel rebar. And Novi-based regional finalist SurClean won for its laser coating removal systems for industrial markets. SurClean will go on to compete for $200,000 in investment and services at the Global Forum, held Nov. 12-13 in San Francisco.

Start Garden, the $15 million seed fund based in Grand Rapids, has invested $5,000 in LocalFu, a service that allows travelers to purchase $5 travel plans built by locals in the city they wish to visit. Founder Roger Graham plans to use the money on marketing.

Start Garden also invested $5,000 in Healthy Strings, a Bluetooth-enabled humidity and temperature sensor designed to protect musical instruments from extreme conditions, and Boast, a push notification app that lets you send news directly to your followers on social media.

—Two personnel changes: Blake Nicholson, former head of people analytics at Facebook, has joined the team of Ann Arbor’s Seelio as vice president of data and product insights. The company also recently hired Tiffany Marra as vice president of academics and services. Marra previously led the University of Michigan’s MPortfolio initiative.

The Michigan Life Sciences and Innovation Center in Plymouth has hired Frederick Molenar to be its new venture biotech director, helping to advance biotech across the state. Molnar was previously chief commercial officer at iCyt Mission Technology, a startup based in Champaign-Urbana that was a spinoff from the University of Illinois.

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