Roundup: Sapa, Ann Arbor SPARK, Hatch Detroit, Automation Alley & More

Here’s a look at innovation news you may have missed from across Michigan:

Sapa Extrusions opened a new office in Birmingham, the company’s fourth North American Technology Center. At the facility, Sapa will work with the automotive industry to design cheaper, more corrosion-resistant aluminum products, with support engineers providing custom alloy development for major manufacturers in the Detroit area. With the automotive industry growing significantly, Sapa saw the need for additional engineering staff and R&D services located close to its customers, including Ford and Tesla. About a dozen Sapa employees will work at the new center, the company said in a press release.

—Six local startups—Warmilu, ContentOro, Arbor Insight, Industry Star, Message Blocks, and Stridepost—got digital marketing help this summer thanks to a collaborative program involving Ann Arbor SPARK and Eastern Michigan University’s Center for Digital Engagement. The Digital Engagement Clinic matched student interns with the startups, all of which are Ann Arbor SPARK incubator clients, giving the startups hands-on digital marketing training. At the end of the program, student interns walked away with a digital media certificate after spending 80 hours working with each startup, blogging, and creating LinkedIn profiles.

Warmilu CEO Grace Hsai explained the benefit of the program in a press release, saying, “Warmilu, like many high-technology startups, has significant technical expertise but a gaping lack of dedicated time, expertise, and even funding for improving their digital presence and marketing. Our digital presence has undergone significant re-focusing and amplification, which has led to new [business opportunities] for Warmilu.”

—The winner of the Hatch Detroit competition was announced Friday: Live Cycle Delight, which seeks to build a “contemporary cycling center” in downtown Detroit, walked away with $50,000 as well as donated legal, public relations, video promotions, and other support services. Live Cycle Delight beat out 170 competitors to win the grand prize. The city’s bike culture has taken off during the past few years with the addition of more than 20 miles of bike lines in and around downtown, and Live Cycle Delight hopes to engage inactive or novice cyclists with guided training on the proper form and riding techniques.

NH Learning Solutions, a Livonia-based network of 17 New Horizons Computer Learning Centers across 10 states, today announced it is expanding its Michigan presence by opening an office in downtown Detroit on West Fort Street. Additionally, NH Learning Solutions is hosting its 10th annual TECHKnowledgey 2015 event on Sept. 17, which brings together technical partners to discuss the changing landscape of Information Technology. (The event is free and open to the public; click here to register.)

NH Learning Solutions will continue to expand and is projecting 10 percent growth within the next year, the company said in a press release.

—Local businesses have now made more than half a billion dollars in export sales as a result of their participation in Automation Alley trade missions, the organization said in a press release late last month. As a result of the $507 million in export sales by local businesses, 2,817 American jobs have been created or supported, Automation Alley said. Since 2001, Automation Alley has led a total of 24 trade missions to regions around the world, and it has upcoming missions to Mexico, Dubai, and Germany planned. To date, representatives from 170 local companies have participated in Automation Alley missions.

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