MI Roundup: U-M, Duo Security, MGCS, NVCA, Grand Circus

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

— After repeatedly hearing from business owners who need more employees with .NET expertise, software guru Bill Wagner is teaming with Grand Circus to offer a .NET bootcamp this spring. Having .NET skills is critical for developers working in the corporate world, Wagner says, and his course will introduce students to the fundamentals of .NET development, the use of Visual Studio, how to use SQL databases, and designing object-oriented applications. The eight-week bootcamp starts on March 23 and will be held from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Tuition costs $5,500, and Wagner says the most successful applicants will demonstrate a pre-existing interest in coding. (Click here to apply.)

—In order to change the way science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are taught, the University of Michigan is co-leading a national program with Georgia Tech that will give undergraduate and graduate students deeper experience in research. To that end, a $5 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust has established the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) consortium, a group of 15 universities that primarily serve underrepresented, minority, or nontraditional students, or are members of the Association of American Universities.

Rather than typical semester- or year-long lab assignments for individual students, the VIP program forms student teams that work closely with faculty research groups for a longer time, often most of a student’s undergraduate career. The student teams, which range from about 10 people to more than 30, are big enough to become self-sustaining, benefiting both students and professors. Eight such teams are currently operating at U-M and are working on projects like using big data to develop connected vehicle technologies and creating models of Great Lakes water flows. With the new grant, U-M can at least double the number of teams in the short term while helping other universities launch their own programs. Organizers hope the experience improves classroom study and inspires students to pursue careers in STEM fields.

—Earlier this month, the Michigan Growth Capital Symposium (MGCS) opened the application process for companies that are interested in presenting at the annual event, which will be held May 19 and 20 in Ypsilanti. Companies actively seeking seed, early-stage, late-stage, or pre-IPO funding of up to $20 million are encouraged to apply; approximately 40 companies will be chosen to present to an audience filled with hundreds of investors. In addition to the 15-minute presentation opportunity, companies selected to present will receive table-top exhibit space, investor pitch coaching, pre-event promotion, and a discounted event registration fee. The deadline to apply is March 10. (For more information about applying to present or for sponsorship information, contact Mary Nickson at (734) 615-4424 or visit the MGCS website.)

Early-stage, Michigan-based startups are invited to participate in a series of National Venture Capital Association-sponsored workshops with investors and seasoned entrepreneurs at the VentureScape conference, held May 6 and 7 in San Francisco. Companies accepted to the workshops, called Office Hours, will also be invited to join the entire two-day conference. Admission to Office Hours is by application only, and applications are due March 27. American Airlines is also sponsoring flights for 80 companies to attend VentureScape through its Innovators Initiative on a first-come-first-served basis.

—Ann Arbor’s Duo Security has named Zack Urlocker its new chief operating officer to help manage the company’s continued growth. In his previous role as COO at Zendesk, Urlocker launched the company’s enterprise strategy. Urlocker has also held senior executive positions at high-growth companies like MySQL, helping them achieve billion-dollar valuations by disrupting mature technology markets. “As a long-time advisor to Duo, Zack has already made an impact in our company and we’re thrilled to bring him into a full-time role,” said Xconomist Dug Song, CEO of Duo Security, in a press release. “Zack will play a leadership role in accelerating our expansion this year in the U.S. and internationally.”

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