Michigan Roundup: Automation Alley, MSU, U-M, Xuriden & More

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

Automation Alley, the Troy-based technology and business organization, has opened its 7Cs program—which helps early-stage companies connect to their first customers—to mid-stage companies. Any tech- or manufacturing-based company with between five and 100 employees in need of sales training or team building is eligible for the 7Cs Second Stage accelerator program. Participants will get consulting from Icube, a firm that assists with business intelligence and ideation; sales training; and a professionally produced sales video.

Automation Alley also held its annual awards gala on Friday, and announced this year’s winners. Among the honorees were Halley Orthopedics (startup of the year), Loc Performance Products (advanced manufacturer of the year), and Tata Technologies (technology company of the year).

—Michigan State University is taking ‘Go Green’ to a new level: ExxonMobil will contribute $1 million to expand MSU research into algae-based fuels. The overall goal of the partnership is to improve the efficiency of photosynthesis in microalgae to produce biofuels and bioproducts. According to a press release, past research has shown that algae photosynthesis can be highly efficient under optimal conditions in the laboratory; the trick, however, seems to be improving photosynthesis in production environments.

The MSU Innovation Center says ExxonMobil’s long-term goal is to process algae bio-oils in its refineries to supplement crude oil as the raw material to manufacture gasoline, diesel, aviation fuels, and marine fuels. In addition to fuels, the company is also examining potential applications for other products, such as chemicals and lubricants.

—Last week, Governor Rick Snyder and Bill Ford, chairman of the Ford Motor Company, traveled to Silicon Valley to tout the Michigan Ambassador Program, where executives met with local leaders that have Michigan ties to share information about growth opportunities in the state’s emerging mobility industry. Mike Miller from Google’s Ann Arbor office and Business Leaders for Michigan’s Doug Rothwell were also on hand for the trip.

—The University of Michigan will lead a national consortium to identify emerging advanced manufacturing technologies in order to boost the country’s innovation ecosystem, manufacturing competitiveness, and security. MForesight: The Alliance for Manufacturing Foresight is a three-year, $5.8 million national project funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology. U-M will manage and staff the project, the goal of which is to make connections across industry sectors to help align advanced manufacturing research and make better use of federal funding.

—David Stockton, the chief of the Division of Genetic, Genomic and Metabolic Disorders at Children’s Hospital of Michigan and professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, played a key role in the research that led to the recent FDA approval ofuridine triacetate (Xuriden), a new compound for treatment of patients with the potentially life-threatening metabolic disorder known as hereditary orotic aciduria.

The drug’s approval came after Stockton and another investigator conducted a successful clinical trial demonstrating the compound’s efficacy. The disorder targeted by the drug is inherited and occurs when a defective gene causes a breakdown in the body’s ability to synthesize uridine, an essential ingredient in the manufacture of DNA and RNA. Wellstat Therapeutics will market the new drug.

—Southfield-based financial media startup Benzinga announced today that it is relocating to downtown Detroit, moving its headquarters to One Campus Martius. According to a press release, Benzinga, which currently has 35 full-time employees, plans to double its workforce over the next two years, adding up to 40 new jobs. “Now we can continue to grow by leveraging the urban core and downtown Detroit’s tech scene to attract top talent from across the country,” said Benzinga CEO Jason Raznick.

iDashboards, the Troy-based software company, has picked up a new customer: Diné College, an Arizona tribal college that serves residents of the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. “The iDashboards solution allows us to better analyze and utilize the immense amount of data we possess to make better business decisions and pinpoint areas we can improve,” said Velveena Davis, director of institutional effectiveness of Diné College, in a press release.

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the Custom Content Editor for Xconomy Insight. You can reach her at sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @Xconomy

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