Roundup: MI Science Center, Phrixus, #hack4detroit, Quicken Loans

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

University of Michigan spin-out Phrixus Pharmaceuticals is taking another step toward clinical trials of its Duchenne muscular dystrophy drug, thanks to more support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s SMARTT program will provide services to produce clinical-grade Carmeseal-MD, the drug being investigated, for the company’s study involving non-ambulatory boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Company leaders say this agreement is one of the last steps on the way to submitting a new drug application to the FDA, and they expect clinical trials to begin by early 2016. In 2013, Phrixus received approximately $2.5 million in preclinical regulatory, pharmacology, and toxicology services to move its drug to clinical trials as part of the NIH’s SMARTT program.

—The winning team from the #hack4detroit event earlier this month has been announced: Abdul Miah, co-founder and principal engineer at rankedHiRe, and Imran Raja, senior software engineer at MB Financial Bank, were awarded the $5,000 grand prize for their app called Ride4Detroit. Ride4Detroit helps bicyclists to create and catalogue their favorite rides, and then share them with others. Second place winners were founders Ben Duell Fraser and Michael Evans, and the third place winner was Jonathan Werber, a developer at Nexient.

—The Michigan Science Center in Detroit opened a new exhibit last weekend called “Robot Lab,” a collection of new science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities for kids. Museum-goers can learn the basics of computer language, manipulate Finch robots, and compete in daily robot challenges. The exhibit runs through September and is free with general admission to the museum.

Computerworld magazine named Detroit’s Quicken Loans the top IT workplace in the country for the third year in a row. Computerworld’s survey was based on a questionnaire regarding company offerings in categories including benefits, career development, training, and retention. In addition, Computerworld conducts extensive surveys of IT professionals, and their responses factor heavily in determining the rankings.

Quicken chair Dan Gilbert has led the way in transforming downtown into a hub for tech startups and entrepreneurs. The company’s technology team has quadrupled in size to 1,300 people since Quicken Loans moved its headquarters to downtown Detroit in 2010, according to Quicken Loans executives.

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