ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) Innovation Hub for Advanced Transportation at the University of Michigan recently awarded a combined $640,000 in funding to seven high-tech, early-stage projects led by researchers at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University. These projects aim to address future or poorly met market needs, offering ways to increase the efficiency, safety and sustainability of moving people and goods.
“The state of Michigan has a long history as a leader and innovator in the automotive industry,” said Bradford Orr, associate vice president for Research-Natural Sciences and Engineering at the University of Michigan. “The MTRAC Innovation Hub for Advanced Transportation continues this long history, keeping Michigan at the forefront of mobility as it evolves to meet the changing needs of consumers.”
Researchers presented their proposals to an oversight committee composed of advanced transportation industry experts, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. The researchers will receive mentorship support from the committee members as their projects progress toward commercialization. The seven projects will address needs in the advanced transportation marketplace, including:
- Projects led by University of Michigan researchers that aim to:
o Increase semiconductor wafer inspection tenfold through precision nano-positioning.
o Reduce extrusion scrap by 25-50 percent through employing material efficient tooling design.
o Enable lightweight, multi-material vehicle structures by employing an efficient polymer to metal joining technology.
o Ensure autonomous vehicle traffic safety rule compliance by employing an automated software verification solution.
o Improve additive manufacturing speed and accuracy through vibration-compensation software.
- A Michigan State University researcher-led project proposes to reduce internal combustion engine fuel consumption through use of a turbulent jet ignition system.
- A project led by a Wayne State University researcher hopes to minimize consumers’ unnecessary personal trips by developing a high efficiency, high-density drone delivery network.
“These projects are in their early stages, but they have shown promise to have a potentially revolutionary impact on the transportation sector,” said Denise Graves, university relations director at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). “These awards, along with mentoring support from industry professionals, will help them bring those innovative technologies closer to commercialization, and the MEDC looks forward to seeing them achieve their milestones over the next year.”
Funded through the Michigan Strategic Fund and administered by the MEDC, the MTRAC Innovation Hub for Advanced Transportation accelerates the development of advanced transportation projects to bring them closer to market. It is part of a network of statewide innovation hubs that includes the MTRAC Innovation Hub for Life Sciences at the University of Michigan, the MTRAC Innovation Hub for AgBio at Michigan State University, theAdvanced Applied Materials Innovation Hub at Michigan Technological University and the recently announced MTRAC Innovation Hub for Advanced Computing at Wayne State University. Each hub is strategically located at a university strong in the sector, further increasing the quality and quantity of resources available.
The MTRAC program itself is supported by funds from the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) and administered by the MEDC, with additional funding coming from partner institutions. Through June, MTRAC programs have received 618 proposals, funded 287 projects, developed 44 startup companies, licensed 33 technologies to industry partners and secured more than $186 million in follow-on funding.
MEDC’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation initiative establishes Michigan as the place to create and grow a business by providing high-tech startup companies access to a variety of critical resources, such as funding and expert counsel, from ideation to maturation. For more information on MEDC’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation, please visit www.michiganbusiness.org/entrepreneurship.