3 Michigan University Startup Projects Receive $250,000 In Funding

December 27, 2019

The Innovation Hub, part of Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC), has invested $250,000 into three state university startup projects. Led by researchers at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University, the projects aim to meet the future market needs in augmented reality, deep learning, and robotic process automation.

“Michigan continues to lead the way in innovation and technology,” said Edward Kim, program director of MTRAC Innovation Hub for Advanced Computing. “And we are thrilled to support the cutting-edge research projects in the advanced computing technologies.”

Bringing disruptive solutions to the market

University researchers presented their proposals to an oversight committee composed of experienced technologists, entrepreneurs, industry partners, and others with experience in commercializing and investing in automation and other frontier technology. In addition to the provided funding, the Hub will also provide the researchers with mentorship support.

“These teams of researchers are incredibly innovative and driven to bring their technologies to the market place,” said Kim. “The MTRAC Innovation Hub for Advanced Computing is in its first year, and these projects have set the bar high. We look forward to growing our program in the years to come.”

The three funded projects have the potential to positively disrupt solutions to the frontier technology market. The funded projects include:

  • An integrated robotic and mixed reality platform created by Dr. Abhilash Pandya from Wayne State University to provide surgeons with the ability to predict and see potential bleed out during intraoperative procedures.
  • Mathematical AI for Drug Discovery by Dr. Guowei Wei from Michigan State University. The technology reduces the time it takes to bring new drugs to the market and the amount of capital required to get it there.
  • Commercializing software refactoring technology that can automate the quality control of software development. Created by Dr. Marouane Kessentini at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, the technology can improve and optimize coding applications and debug them using deep learning.

The technology revolution’s impact on Michigan

The technology revolution is expected to have a dramatic impact on Michigan in the years ahead. According to PayScale, up to 65% of children entering kindergarten will work in jobs that don’t exist today.

For instance, data servers are currently used to deliver database services such as data analysis, storage, data manipulation, and archiving. Up to 80% of data centers keep servers in aisle containment for better energy efficiency because a 50% open area allows for optimum airflow.

But databases could soon be replaced just like many other forms of technology we’re currently using. Up to 47% of sold servers are expected to go to hyper-scalers by 2020.

New developing technology like AI and deep learning are helping 72% of businesses reach their goal of improving customer experiences. It’s crucial for young people to adapt and be prepared for this shift in technology to be able to find jobs. Fortunately, MTRAC and other Michigan programs are creating new opportunities.

Fostering talent and technology

The MTRAC Innovation Hub for Advanced Computing Technologies is part of a network of statewide innovation hubs run by the WSU Technology Commercialization Office. Every hub is located at a university with significant strengths in the frontier technology sector to increase the quality and quantity of available resources for researchers.

“We are committed to fostering talent and technology commercialization within our state at the research level by creating collaboration opportunities that ultimately strengthen our entrepreneurial ecosystem and put Michigan at the forefront of the innovative technologies market,” said Denise Graves, the university relations director at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

The MTRAC program is supported by the Michigan Strategic Fund with additional funding from partner institutions. MTRAC programs have received 658 proposals since their inception and have funded 306 projects. They’ve developed 52 startups, licensed 34 technologies to industry partners, and secured over $209 million in follow-up funding.

“While these research projects are still in their early stages, they show great promise,” said Graves. “The funds and mentorship they receive from the MTRAC program are an important step to take projects from concept to commercialization.”

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