Roundup: Duo Insight, Digital Undivided, Bug Bounty & More

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

Duo Security, the Ann Arbor-based cybersecurity startup that is also one of the state’s fastest growing companies, has released a free tool that lets IT teams run internal phishing simulations within five minutes. Duo Insight allows administrators to identify potential security weaknesses and share them with company leaders to better inform security decisions.

Based on the first 100 phishing simulations run with Duo Insight, 27 percent of end users are susceptible to phishing and 17 percent of all users went so far as to enter their username and password into a phishing email. In a press release, the company called the findings particularly disturbing because it means a simple phishing campaign has a high probability of succeeding.

Tetra Discovery Partners, the Grand Rapids-based biotech startup developing drugs to treat neurological disorders, has co-authored a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience about its experimental drug’s success in treating traumatic brain injury (TBI). Researchers from Tetra and the University of Miami treated rats with a selective phosphodiesterase 4 subtype inhibitor for three months.

The researchers looked at the brain after trauma to identify what changes had occurred as a result. They found that brain trauma inhibits a protein in neurons that is critical for memory formation, and scientists reported the treatment improved memory and learning. The results suggest that Tetra’s drug has the potential to improve cognitive ability and overall functioning for people living with TBI—if it can replicate these results in a human trial. Past attempts at developing similar drugs have been undone by their crippling side effects, although Tetra said in a press release that its drug does not seem to cause them so far.

Digital Undivided‘s BIG ATL incubator for startups led by black and Latina women is now accepting applications. The BIG accelerator is a four-month tech accelerator program that provides training in startup methodologies, access to more than 100 mentors, office space for up to a year, access to Digital Undivided’s alumni network of women of color, and possible seed funding from Maya Venture’s Harriet Angel Syndicate. Based in Atlanta, the accelerator is supported by the SBA Growth Accelerator Fund, Surdna Foundation, Wells Fargo, and Echoing Green. The deadline to apply is July 31.

—Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is the first major automaker to offer a “bug bounty,” which is a financial reward for the discovery of potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the vehicle. Using Bugcrowd, FCA has created a public channel where freelance cybersecurity researchers can report bugs before they become an issue for consumers. Bugcrowd is overseeing all $150-$1,500 reward payouts, which are scaled based on the importance of the vulnerability identified and the scope of impacted users.

—The Michigan Venture Capital Association announced today that it will hold its annual awards dinner in Detroit for the first time in its history. The Nov. 2 event is also timed to coordinate with Invest Detroit’s Accelerate Michigan competition, the largest business plan contest and startup showcase in the state.

“Hosting these events back-to-back in Detroit creates synergies in the entrepreneurial and investment community, and attracts the attention of out-of-state investors and attendees,” said Invest Detroit president Martin Dober in a press release.

—Twelve University of Michigan graduate students will lead research projects in July and August at U-M’s Detroit Center as part of the Detroit City Study co-working initiative. The students will receive a $1,500 stipend to conduct their research, and they will collaborate and engage with the community as they examine subjects like the importance of green spaces, arts as a community revitalization catalyst, and the potential impact of education reform.

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