Roundup: TechTown Awards, MCWT Competition, Detroit Initiatives, More

It has been a busy fall in Michigan, full of local tech and innovation news. Here’s a look at some of the recent announcements:

—Earlier this month, TechTown Detroit hosted the Toast of the Town event to honor winners of its Salute awards, which recognize the best and brightest in the local startup ecosystem. The winners included Century Partners (Entrepreneur of the Year), Global Detroit (Partner of the Year), MySwimPro, Detroit Denim, and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. In a statement, TechTown said it was honoring the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan because it has “created permanent, positive change in the lives of people living in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair, and Livingston counties by distributing nearly $941 million through more than 61,000 grants to nonprofit organizations.”

—This week, the Bosch Community Fund announced a new $500,000 fellowship to provide scholarships for students at Kettering University in Flint. The scholarships will be available to eligible students studying mechanical, electrical, or computer engineering, or computer science. The fellowship was created to help support students in STEM fields. In a press release, Mike Mansuetti, president of Bosch’s North American operations, said, “With an aim of diversifying the workforce and inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists, the primary goal of the endowment is to support high-achieving but underrepresented people in pursuing STEM programs and careers.”

—The Michigan Council of Women in Technology Foundation (MCWT) is accepting registrations for its annual website design competition until Oct. 31. The competition, which is open to all middle school and high school girls across the state, is one of the organization’s most popular programs. Last year, 144 competitors from 30 schools vied for cash prizes.

Judges from the MCWT’s partner companies will examine the entries and choose the finalists, who then go on to pitch their sites to six local tech executives serving as judges. Contestants can enter individually or with one other team member, and the MCWT offers an optional free training session on topics such as usability, design, and coding. More details, including a variety of design tips and tools for would-be developers, can be found here.

Capital Impact Partners, with support from JPMorgan Chase, has created a new, $5 million program to help minority real estate developers participate in Detroit’s economic recovery by providing them with training opportunities and access to capital. The Equitable Development Initiative is a two-year pilot program designed to provide mentorship, management training, and capital to develop real estate projects in Detroit’s neighborhoods. The resources will also help participants with project budgeting, real estate finance, project and contractor management, legal services, and community engagement. The program is expected to help 15 to 20 developers grow their businesses.

The Equitable Development Initiative came about after Capital Impact realized that projects led by minority developers had received only one tenth of the $152 million it loaned in Detroit between 2006 and 2015. (For perspective, Detroit is home to about 50,000 minority-led businesses, ranking fourth-highest in the nation in terms of minority entrepreneurship.) The program is being funded out of JPMorgan Chase’s $150 million investment in Detroit’s revitalization. To apply for the Equitable Development Initiative, click here.

—National Guard members from around the country along with teams from across Europe will test their offensive and defensive cybersecurity skills during the North American International Cyber Summit on Oct. 30 in downtown Detroit. Created by the Michigan Cyber Range, the event takes place in a virtual training environment called Alphaville.

This year, 10 teams representing more than 10 U.S. states and foreign countries will compete to control as many of Alphaville’s network assets as possible using open-source tools. Teams will be tasked with planting and protecting encrypted beacons within the virtual library, school, private industry, police station, and utility company. The winning team will be the one that controls the most devices at the end of the day.

—The Wayne State University School of Information Sciences has created a new Master’s degree program in information management. The program, which will begin in the winter 2018 semester, is available entirely online. Students can choose an area of focus from multiple specializations, including software tools, Web-based information systems, data analytics, health and scientific data management, and user experience.

Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) and the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI) celebrated Manufacturing Day on Oct. 6 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at their facility in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood. The event included more than 160 Detroit-area students participating in hands-on STEM activities, such as building hover crafts out of compact discs and creating an automobile out of different materials and testing it through virtual reality.

The two organizations’ co-location was announced in 2015. The center houses LIFT’s headquarters and IACMI’s vehicles scale-up facility, the research and development hub for the IACMI Vehicles Technology Area. This event capped a nearly $50 million investment in manufacturing equipment and improvements to the Corktown facility, where the two groups plan to host innovative research projects in both composites and metals.

—Last month, Holland High School announced that it has received a $35,000 grant from Project Lead The Way (PLTW) to implement the organization’s engineering, computer science, and biomedical science curriculum for its students. The grant was made possible by a donation from Holland-based Motus Integrated Technologies. PLTW is a nonprofit organization that uses hands-on learning to teach kids problem-solving strategies, critical and creative thinking, and how to communicate and collaborate. More than 9,000 schools across the U.S. offer the PLTW program.

—The American Center for Mobility, the Ypsilanti-based site dedicated to the development of connected and autonomous vehicles, has racked up another partnership. The Hyundai America Technical Center will contribute $5 million to the ACM to support the creation of a collaborative test environment. The contribution from Hyundai brings ACM’s fundraising total to $101 million. The facility’s first phase of construction is nearing completion, and the center is expected to open in December.

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