“What we do very well in Michigan is work collaboratively.”
Glenn Stevens, executive director of MICHauto and vice president of Automotive and Mobility Initiatives at the Detroit Regional Chamber, set the tone for DRIVE TLV’s second visit to Detroit to discuss partnership opportunities, learn about the unique business assets the region has to offer, and hear from some of Israel’s up-and-coming mobility startups.
Following tours of mobility hubs like the American Center for Mobility (ACM) and Mcity, the delegation gathered with representatives from the Detroit Regional Partnership, MICHauto, Michigan Israel Business Accelerator, and PlanetM at the Detroit Regional Chamber.
The focus of the day’s conversations – Michigan’s robust automotive and mobility ecosystem.
Michigan Israeli Business Accelerator’s CEO Scott Hiipakka emphasized the abundance of opportunity that resides in the region.
“Think about what our ecosystem here represents for the opportunity to create connections and partnerships,” he said. “That’s what this is about.”
PlanetM Managing Director Seun Phillips took that a step further, explaining the program’s commitment to harnessing the significant partnership potential between DRIVE and Michigan’s thriving automotive ecosystem, touting the coordinated elements that facilitate such progress: business matchmaking, technology activations, and the coordination of assets.
“In everything that we do, we’re bringing all our partners together because we believe that as you bring the sum of the parts together, we can…have a greater impact,” Phillips said. “Here we have the right infrastructure and are investing in the right way for the future of mobility.”
Next, the Detroit Regional Partnership’s Senior Vice President of Business Development Justin Robinson recalled his interest in the Israeli market and the impetus for these productive meetings. Robinson’s welcome to the delegation reinforced the importance and impact of the connections being made there.
“We view ourselves as the global leader of the North American automotive industry, both traditional and future, but we really look to Israel and what’s happening in emerging technology as a critical part of maintaining our role in that future,” Robinson said.
The benefits of partnerships between these companies and the programs and resources leading industry development in Michigan are undeniable as evidenced by the companies that have experienced them firsthand. Honda Xcelerator, for instance, which launched its Detroit satellite in 2017, saw the move as a strategic opportunity to connect with some of the best ideas, facilities, and technologies the industry has to offer.
“We view this area as so important, we decided to open a Honda Xcelerator satellite in this region,” Eric Blumbergs, Honda Xcelerator’s Detroit lead, said. “We started here to be in the heart of the automotive and mobility industries and build more and deeper connections with Detroit’s burgeoning startup ecosystem.”
Similarly, Karamba Security’s CEO and co-founder Ami Dotan shared his story of growing his cybersecurity company in Michigan, a testament to the partners in the room and their support.
“I haven’t seen any such ecosystem anywhere,” Dotan said. “To do business on a daily basis, you talk to these guys, and they will open the doors for you.”
DRIVE’s now annual visit continued to foster new connections to grow both Israel’s and Michigan’s automotive industries with thoughtfully curated matchmaking meetings and pitch presentations from several Israeli startups ranging in expertise from autonomous vehicle sensor technology to advanced GPS systems and next-generation security.
With the enthusiasm and commitment expressed on both sides of the conversations, the successes achieved by companies like Karamba in partnership with groups like the Detroit Regional Partnership, MICHauto, Michigan Israel Business Accelerator, and PlanetM will extend to more emerging industry leaders.
Learn more about DRIVE’s presenting startups:
A.D Knight: A.D Knight solves the problem of detecting pedestrians and vulnerable road users in obscured and low visibility scenarios, based on a novel sensor which detects their personal devices (cellular, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi). The sensor allows measuring the personal devices’ positions relative to the vehicle, estimating pedestrians’ trajectories, and assessing pedestrians’ awareness of traffic.
Enroute: Enroute develops a personalized commerce platform which is installed into ride-hailing and mass transit applications. Our service allows passengers to ride for FREE as they shop and interact. Enroute’s smart algorithms create a unique shopping experience for passengers based on the ride details and the user profile.
InfiniDome: InfiniDome develops and manufactures a cyber device designed to protect GPS-based systems for location and time synchronization from short-range disruptors. The company’s product, GPSDome, provides a solution to protect against low-cost GPS jammers. The products can be easily installed in any GPS-based system with an external antenna to protect against disruptions, similar to antivirus software. GPSDome is a bolt-on module that provides affordable, effective protection against the jamming of GPS receivers. The device ensures continuity of the navigation and timing signals used by emergency services, logistics, security, and commercial operations. InfiniDome is part of the Focus-Telecom Group.
Moodify: Moodify is developing the Empathic Car system, a scalable, fully customizable tool for providing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The platform teaches itself over time to further optimize the treatment in a real-time feedback loop as it assesses the specific micro-interventions that best serve the needs of each user.
The platform uses artificial empathy to provide live behavioral and cognitive guidance. Bycontinuously collecting biometric data, the system can react in real time to increase drivers’ attention and positive emotions. Moodify’s Empathic Car system enables cars to “feel” and intuitively respond to the driver’s emotional needs.
Ottopia: Ottopia is combining humans and AI to solve autonomous driving. We’re building the first ever platform that enables remote humans to guide vehicles in a way that is safe, reliable, scalable and secure. We believe that “mostly autonomous” provides a superior experience and is safer than “100% autonomous”. A mostly autonomous system means that remote humans are engaged whenever a vehicle isn’t sure what to do.
SoftRide: SoftRide provides robust and feasible autonomous driving in geo-fenced and simple driving areas based on its unique multi-layered maps and proprietary algorithms that are embedded inside those maps. The maps include physical data and metadata that simplify the autonomous driving problem, as it reduces complexity and improves performance across the autonomous driving stack, including localization, perception, and driving decisions. This approach allows reaching an inexpensive solution with a level of safety that is not reachable today.
Voyage 81: Voyage 81 is a deep-tech startup poised to bring much needed innovation to the automotive and imaging market. Fully and semi-autonomous vehicles employing our cutting-edge sensing technology have the potential to make better, more informed decisions where it matters. Our patented technology recovers hyperspectral information from existing sensors providing a unique and low-cost solution for material sensing.