Roundup: NextChallenge Winners, Strata Oncology Trial, MCWT & More

What a long, strange year it’s been, with no shortage of news coming out of the technology sector. As we say goodbye to 2017, here’s a final roundup of innovation news from around the state:

—Detroit cleantech incubator NextEnergy, in partnership with Denso, DTE Energy, and Wells Fargo, has named Ontario’s SmartCone as the winner of the 2017 NextChallenge: Smart Cities competition, which asked innovators across the world to develop hardware and software to address unmet infrastructure needs in urban areas. SmartCone will receive $60,000 in grant funding from Wells Fargo to demonstrate its Internet of Things-powered municipal security and surveillance tools.

In addition, East Lansing-based grid management startup Switched Source received a $40,000 grant, and Techstars Mobility alum Derq, which is also an MIT spinout, earned the $20,000 people’s choice award. According to a press release from NextEnergy, more than 100 participants applied to be in the competition.

—Five healthcare organizations have joined Strata Oncology‘s Precision Oncology Network offering free tumor sequencing to patients with advanced cancer: University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, Christiana Care’s Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute, Kaiser Permanente-Northern California, Kettering Health Network, and Ochsner Health System.

Strata Oncology, located in Ann Arbor, partners with cancer centers to collectively advance the development of precision medicines by working to boost clinical trial enrollment. With the addition of these five cancer centers and their affiliate hospitals, routine tumor profiling through the Strata trial will be available at more than 50 hospitals across the country. To learn more about the Strata trial, click here.

—Earlier this month, the Detroit Development Fund, JPMorgan Chase, and the Kellogg Foundation announced that the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund in Detroit has attracted new investors, nearly tripling the fund’s size from $6.5 million to over $18 million. The growth is the result of strong demand for capital and a continued effort to help all Detroiters benefit from the Motor City’s comeback, a press release from JPMorgan Chase said. New investors include the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, Fifth Third Bank, and the Kresge Foundation.

The fund provides loans ranging from $50,000 to $200,000 and business assistance to Detroit-based entrepreneurs of color. To date, the fund has lent or approved $4.5 million to more than 43 minority small businesses, resulting in over 600 new or preserved jobs, JPMorgan Chase said. Fifty-three percent of the loans went to minority women-owned businesses, and nearly 70 percent have supported small businesses based in neighborhoods outside of the downtown area.

The Michigan Council of Women in Technology Foundation (MCWT) has received a $25,000 grant from the Ford Fund to help middle school girls become more interested in technology. The money will fund a new program called Girls Solve IT, where teams of girls will complete three “quests” during a six-week period before competing statewide with peers, the organization said in a statement. Girls Solve IT is meant to be fun, collaborative, and hands-on, and during its first year, the MCWT expects the program to impact 200 students.

ExperienceIT, a collaboration between downtown tech companies and workforce development agencies in Detroit, has graduated its Fall 2017 class. Eighteen students completed the newly evolved 12-week program, which allowed for more self-directed training after hours. Since 2014, ExperienceIT has graduated nearly 200 people, with an average of 75 percent scoring full-time positions with partner companies such as Quicken Loans and GalaxE.Solutions after training.

—Walsh College in Troy has created a new academic concentration in the area of automotive cybersecurity. The concentration is an expansion of Walsh’s Fundamentals of Automotive Cybersecurity course, which was the first class of its kind nationally when it launched earlier this year. The new concentration will delve further into the industry, giving students an understanding of the challenges and opportunities associated with the development of self-driving technologies.

—AutoMobili-D, the portion of the North American International Auto Show dedicated to mobility companies and technologies, will be back in 2018. This year, 57 startups from 11 countires will be highlighted at the January auto show, a 39 percent increase over last year. For more about each of the companies, check out this recent blog post by Ted Serbinski, managing director of Techstars Mobility.

—In more JPMorgan Chase news, the financial services firm announced it will invest $900,000 to support sustainable infrastructure projects in Detroit, including a project with the Eastside Community Network to rehab vacant commercial properties along the Mack Avenue corridor east of downtown. In addition, the company is retrofitting over 70 percent of the city’s Chase branches with LED lights and new building management systems.

—Donna Doleman Dickerson, the longtime vice president for marketing and communications at Ann Arbor SPARK, has taken a new position with GreenPath Financial Wellness. She will serve as the Farmingham Hills-based company’s chief marketing officer.

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