Roundup: Lansing Proto, MCWT, BizGrid, GM Wayfinder App & More

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

Plymouth Ventures has sold its position in 365 Retail Markets, the Troy-based developer of point-of-sale hardware, software, and mobile technologies for the workplace, to Omaha, NE-based McCarthy Capital Fund VI. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“It is an impressive achievement for the company to graduate from local investors and attract high quality, national private equity,” said Mark Horne, managing partner at Plymouth Ventures, in a press release.

Lansing Proto, a startup accelerator run by the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), has won a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition. Lansing Proto aims to support product-based companies as they move from concept to market, and was the only accelerator in Michigan to receive a grant from the SBA. Lansing Proto provides $15,000 in equity funding to two tech startups each year that also participate in an intensive eight-month program.

“A year ago, the Lansing area had no equity investment fund while many other Michigan communities had not just one, but several,” said Tony Willis, Lansing Proto administrator, in a press release. “LEAP set up Lansing Proto and, along with Michigan State University’s Conquer accelerator, both have really taken off.”

The Michigan Council of Women in Technology has opened a new outpost in Western Michigan to further its mission to increase the number of women working in technology throughout the state. Meijer, Open Systems Technologies, Gordon Food Services, and Spectrum Health have joined the nonprofit as sponsors to further the cause of diversification in STEM fields. To celebrate its new programming in Western Michigan, the MCWT will host a private screening of the documentary “CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap” on Sept. 30 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Bytwek Theater at Calvin College.

BizGrid, the online directory and infographic that connects Detroit entrepreneurs with the ecosystem’s business support services, has published an updated infographic and directory listing more than 80 organizations offering services for startups—everything from business planning and strategy to real estate assistance to co-working spaces. In November, BizGrid will host BizGrid Live 2016, a networking event where entrepreneurs and small-business owners can meet in person with representatives from the support service organizations, as well as hear real-life experiences from other entrepreneurs.

—Baker College’s Cadillac campus is now accepting applications for a free training program. The Michigan Advanced Technician Training (MAT2) mechatronics associate degree program runs eight weeks, with training taking place at various Northern Michigan manufacturers. Students can live in Baker College housing in Cadillac during school sessions.

Each student is given a steady income throughout the program: a weekly stipend to assist with personal expenses while attending classes and, when working, an hourly wage that increases annually when the student has met program requirements. Tuition is paid by sponsoring manufacturers, who also pledge to hire graduates.

Students must have a high school degree, as well as meet other requirements, to qualify for the program. The deadline to apply is Oct. 7.

—GM’s corporate headquarters in Detroit, the Renaissance Center, is a building so large and labyrinthine that it has its own ZIP code. To help visitors find their way, GM has launched a wayfinder app to provide smooth navigation of the building, which hosts more than 17,000 visitors and employees each day. The app allows people to search for dining, shopping, restrooms, entrances, and exits.

Developed by GM in collaboration with indoor mapping and location provider Aisle411, the iOS mobile app uses Apple’s CoreLocation API to enable realtime indoor navigation.The free app can be found in the Apple store.

—Applications are now open for ag-tech startups who want to compete in the Western Growers Innovation Arena Competition. To be one of the six startups chosen to compete during the upcoming Western Growers meeting in Hawaii, applicants must be working ons innovative ag-tech solutions to solve issues such as labor availability, water scarcity, water quality, food safety, planning/optimization, big data, and compliance cost. Go here to apply; the deadline is Sept. 29.

Nexteer, the Auburn Hills automotive supplier, has a new chief operating officer. Laurent Bresson has resigned as president and global chief operating officer, effective immediately.  Michael Richardson, Nexteer’s senior vice president, executive board director, and chief strategy officer, has been named interim president and global chief operating officer. According to a press release, the board plans to identify a permanent successor soon.

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