U. of Mich. invests $1M in solving transportation challenges

Posted on November 9, 2015

The University of Michigan (U-M) will award more than $1 million in grant funding to technologies that demonstrate high potential for solving transportation's toughest challenges.

The Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) Transportation program, in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corp., offers an avenue for U-M researchers and innovators to discover commercial opportunities to advance their projects out of the lab and into the market.

In 2014, the MTRAC Transportation program, run jointly by U-M's Center for Entrepreneurship at the College of Engineering and Office of Technology Transfer, launched its first year of funding, awarding more than $470,000 to five U-M research projects with high commercial potential in the transportation space.

Working with MTRAC Transportation partners and staff, along with industry and investment experts, these projects found mobility applications that improve battery life, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, hybrid efficiency and more.

"By finding transportation applications for cutting-edge technologies, MTRAC Transportation-funded startups contribute to grow Michigan's role as an international industry leader and support economic development in the region," said MTRAC Transportation Program Director Jay Ellis, who leads the effort working with a board of investors and venture capitalists with special expertise in the transportation industry.

The program recently awarded funding to its second cohort of projects with more than $500,000 going toward a new round of U-M research teams that have demonstrated the high impact their technology could have on mobility. It is part of a comprehensive commercialization pipeline developed at U-M by the Center for Entrepreneurship and Office of Technology Transfer to ensure university technology has support at every stage in the path to reach the market.

Ellis and the MTRAC Transportation Board review annual applications and grant awardees up to $100,000 in funding for a 12-month period. Past teams, such as Movellus Circuits and Elegus Technologies, have made significant strides in their attempt to innovate the transportation industry.

Among the second cohort of projects, grants were awarded to the AirMetrics and the Bendable Concrete Railroad Tie teams.

"When we evaluate the impact of MTRAC," said CFE Executive Director, Tom Frank, "We will be looking at the strength of companies we were able to create in Michigan that may never have existed without this program. Finding ways to commercialize our cutting edge research and make a meaningful difference in the creation of new jobs is our most important challenge."

MTRAC Transportation will accept new applications beginning January 2016.

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