Roundup: URC Report, Harman, Global Detroit, TechShop & More

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

—This week, Harman, maker of speakers popular with musicians and audiophiles—Harman Kardon is one of the brands associated with the company—celebrated the official opening of its North American headquarters in Novi. The 188,000-square-foot building will house 1,000 employees focused on engineering and developing advanced technology for the connected car, automotive audio, and cloud services.

“The opening of our new North American automotive headquarters signifies Harman’s drive to accelerate innovation in automotive and also the exciting future that metro Detroit is forging as an epicenter of the connected car and autonomous driving,” said Dinesh Paliwal, Harman’s president and CEO, in a press release.

—University of Michigan researchers have scored a $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to lead a project modeling a year in the life of a power grid in order to create a detailed, adaptable simulation. The model will be used to create software that will run power grids in the future, when they’ll be tasked with “shuffling electricity on the fly to constantly optimize the balance between supply and demand,” according to a press release sent by U-M. Researchers will take actual data from a French power grid operator to create the model, which other researchers and energy companies can use to test algorithms and software. The project also involves researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory, the California Institute of Technology, Columbia University, and Réseau de Transport d’Electrique in France.

—The number crunchers at the University Research Corridor (URC) this week released the ninth annual Economic Impact and Benchmark Report, which measures the economic impact U-M, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University have on the state’s economy. According to the report, available online in its entirety, the three universities contributed $17.5 billion to Michigan’s economy, an increase of $700 million over the previous year. The URC continued to rack up impressive technology transfer numbers, surpassing its five-year average for the number of patents, invention disclosures, and licensing activity for the third straight year. For every dollar the state invested in the three URC universities, Michigan saw $22 in economic benefits, according to the report.

The report also found that the URC is ranked second nationally in terms of university research clusters; Southern California (UCLA, UC-San Diego, and USC) ranked first, while Northern California (UC-San Francisco, UC-Berkeley, and Stanford) ranked third. The report was compiled by the Anderson Economic Group, which compared the URC’s performance to similar university clusters in Northern California, Southern California, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas, and Pennsylvania. Interested in a tl;dr version of the report? Click here for a nifty infographic that illustrates the main points.

Global Detroit director Steve Tobocman was one of five innovators honored this month in Des Moines, IA, at the first-ever Renewal Awards, sponsored by Allstate and Atlantic Media. According to the press release, the Renewal Awards were created to “recognize problem-solvers who are making progress against pressing social issues facing America.” Tobocman won the award for his efforts to strengthen urban entrepreneurship and for working to make the metro Detroit region more welcoming and attractive to global talent. Global Detroit said it will use the $10,000 prize to continue the development of its international student retention, professional connector, and entrepreneurial support programs.

—Effective Feb. 15, TechShop Detroit is changing its hours of operation. After spending the past year experimenting with a flexible 24-hour schedule, the DIY maker space will soon be open daily from 9 am to midnight. However, TechShop Detroit still wants to hear feedback from members about the new schedule; to make your voice heard, call (313) 583-3831 or e-mail [email protected]

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