Four Midwestern Startups Win Global Auto Tech Contest at SAE Congress

As part of the SAE World Congress held in Detroit this week, the seventh annual Global Automotive Innovation Challenge was held in partnership with the MIT Alliance of Michigan and NextEnergy. The goal of the challenge was to bring new innovations to the industry, which has a notoriously long and often secretive product development cycle.

Winners were selected in four categories, and more than $200,000 in cash and business acceleration services were at stake. To be eligible, participants needed to have innovations based on automotive content (hardware or software that is part of the vehicle), something that helps design the vehicle, or something that helps produce the vehicle.

Target innovations were limited to driver-driven, land-based vehicles, as well as vehicle/infrastructure communications. Applicants could be pre-revenue or have cumulative sales up to $250,000. 

More than 38 companies from all over the world applied to compete, and 12 finalists participated in the pitch contest held Tuesday at the SAE World Congress. Each winner will receive $50,000 in cash and prizes.

Without further ado, here’s a bit about the winners:

SiNode Systems (vehicle electrification, V2X [vehicle-to-infrastructure], and advanced mobility category): The Chicago-based startup develops anode materials to improve lithium-ion batteries with more stability, faster charging, and three times the capacity of competitors, it says.

Detroit Materials (advanced materials, sensors, and manufacturing processes category): Located in Wixom, MI, Detroit Materials produces high-strength, low-alloy steel and cast iron developed at Wayne State University for use in automotive, defense, and mining applications.

—RightThereWare (infotainment, auto consumer, and value chain/business model category): Based in Milan, MI, RightThereWare has developed navigation software that ties together dispatching, ride-sharing/load-sharing, routing, and estimated arrival times.

Advanced Battery Concepts (new high value and disruptive technology innovations category): The Clare, MI-based startup invented Green Seal, a product that improves large-format, energy storage technology and the performance of sealed lead-acid batteries.

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