In a world where transportation methods and technology are consistently evolving at a rapid pace, the Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) Innovation Hub for Advanced Transportation is a catalyst driving the continuous development of automotive and mobility technology. Run by the the University of Michigan Office of Technology Transfer and in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the statewide program provides grants to fund innovation projects that begin in universities and are commercialized into products and services that meet an industry need.
Allowing for resources (industry leaders to serve as mentors, funding, etc.) up to a sum of $100,000, the year-long program promotes entrepreneurism as a key factor of economic growth both within Michigan and nationwide in alignment with the strategy shared by the state’s Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF), the MEDC and the University of Michigan. The grants are open to researchers in institutions of higher education, hospital systems and nonprofit research centers. An external committee made up of industry leaders, innovators, and investors makes the decisions on the projects slated to be funded.
Since becoming a statewide innovation hub in 2017, 78 projects have been funded, 35 startups have been developed, $2.7 million has been awarded, and over $36 million follow on funding. Their focus area includes robotics and autonomy, mobility solutions, electric vehicle drivetrain/propulsion, advanced manufacturing processes, and more.
“With its laser focus on commercialization, the U-M Advanced Transportation MTRAC Innovation Hub provides key support to early-stage technologies hoping to make a revolutionary impact on the transportation sector,” said Denise Graves, university relations director at the MEDC. “The funding, along with mentoring and industry guidance, helps researchers bring their innovative technologies closer to the market. The projects supported through the Innovation Hub have the potential to solve some challenging issues and have a significant and positive impact on our everyday lives.”
Six early stage, high-tech mobility/advanced transportation projects across universities in Michigan were selected for the 2021 MTRAC Innovation Hub for Advanced Transportation funding award cycle. The projects represent three from the University of Michigan and one each from Western Michigan University, Michigan State University and Michigan Tech. These projects will receive over $600,000 in combined grants to help commercialize the innovative solutions, which support a wide array of advanced technology needs in the transportation and mobility sectors. Projects span the optimization and faster charging of electric vehicles, sustainable materials for automotive foam applications, second life battery usage system optimization, advanced driver assistance systems in adverse weather conditions and more.
Finalists for 2021 will receive their funding in August and it will be available through July 31, 2022.
Learn more about the MTRAC Innovation Hubs around the state and other university programs at michiganbusiness.org/entrepreneurship.