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While Ann Arbor, influenced by the University’s presence, has been known for its medical web and mobile application (mobile app) startups, Detroit’s tech companies are focused on supporting e-commerce, automotive and manufacturing industries. One startup, Detroit Labs, created a Chevy Game Time app and the Domino’s Ordering app to support their online ordering system. Detroit Labs develops web, iOS and Android apps, and is only a few years old.
Detroit Labs received an investment from Detroit Venture Partners (DVP), a firm that funds seed and early-stage tech companies in efforts to rebuild the city by supporting entrepreneurship. According to National Venture Capital Association data as reported by Bloomberg, venture capital firms have invested $79.9 million in 13 Detroit companies last year, proving to be the third-highest total investment.
The principle of fueling entrepreneurship to fuel long-term economic growth is also held by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC). Their economic gardening program is based on the concept of growing local businesses, rather than attracting large businesses from out of state. Online Tech was featured in Crain’s Detroit Business last year as a case study for positive business growth in Michigan as one of the 54 Michigan companies to receive consultation during the state’s pilot program. While there is a wealth of existing talent in Michigan, the program acknowledges that business, infrastructure and financial assistance is necessary to fuel entrepreneurship and subsequent economic growth.
Most recently, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC) received a $1.1 million grant from the federal government to assist its endeavors to help small and medium-sized manufacturers throughout the state create new high-tech jobs. The MMTC offers personalized solutions, including business development services, lean business solutions, sustainable manufacturing and environmental systems, quality management systems and more.
Similarly, the MEDC has launched a Michigan Advanced Technician Training Program (MAT²) in attempts to revive manufacturing employment by offering a work-study program in which employers pay a student’s tuition while they attend school and work, alternating every six weeks. This type of program both cultivates and funds the development of skills of future manufacturers while keeping talent in-state.
An article by AnnArbor.com’s Tech Beat reported last month that Michigan ranked third in a national study of high-tech job growth in 2010-11. Michigan’s 6.9 percent growth was strides ahead of the national average of 2.6 percent when it came to high-tech employment, noting that Lansing and the Detroit suburbs of Warren, Troy and Farmington Hills were the leading growth regions.
The mobile app market is also growing in Detroit, as the Huffington Post reported. The first Detroit Mobile City iOS conference, hosted by Develop Detroit, a collective of software engineers and tech professionals, will be held February 2 in downtown Detroit.
According to Bloomberg, expertise in cloud computing, mobile software applications and energy management are in demand in Detroit, as automotive technology advances with Internet radio and lithium-ion battery-powered engines. The demand for developers is quickly outpacing the number of qualified local graduates in Michigan, thus spurring the need for programs like MAT² that support technology education and skill development while maintaining ties to local employers.
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