Founded in Japan and headquartered in Silicon Valley, automotive cybersecurity firm Trillium Secure had options the world over when seeking the future location for its research and development lab.

Based on its knowledge of access to high quality talent, Trillium knew it wanted to locate its R&D division within the Midwest, and the company weighed options in Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario, Canada.

Trillium announced its plans to open in Ann Arbor in July 2018.

“Michigan was the easy choice because that’s where the customers are, where the automotive industry was born and where it is today,” says Trillium chief executive officer David Uze.

Of course, Michigan’s automotive industry support infrastructure played a significant role in the company’s decision making, too.
It was an introduction to senior vice president and chief of staff Phil Santer at Ann Arbor SPARK that ultimately led to Trillium choosing Ann Arbor for the site of its R&D lab. SPARK offered Trillium help in recruiting top talent.

As the economic driver for Washtenaw and Livingston counties, SPARK also fostered a connection to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which in turn offered Trillium a $207,500 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant for its commitment of $240,000 in capital investment and the creation of 25 new jobs.

“Trillium Secure’s expansion in Michigan rather than Ontario means excellent, well-paying jobs for Michigan residents and underscores the strength of the talent in the state’s mobility and technology sectors,” Jeff Mason, chief executive officer of MEDC, said at the time of the announcement.

“The opportunity to work with entities like Mcity and the American Center for Mobility played a huge role,” in choosing Ann Arbor, says John Davis, director for Trillium’s North America business development and operations.

“We were connected by SPARK to the MEDC which then connected us to two of the Big Three automotive companies. We arrived in Michigan a year ago and we didn’t have those big connects before. Now we do.”

For a cyber security firm that specializes in the automotive industry, it seems like a no-brainer that Trillium’s two North American locations would be in Silicon Valley and southeastern Michigan. The company provides data security for connected vehicles, which are becoming the industry norm.

It’s one of the next big issues in mobility. While consumers are concerned with data security when it comes to personal devices like their computers and smart phones, they might not be as aware of cyber security threats to their automobiles. But as the rise of connected cars and autonomous vehicles continues, automotive cyber security becomes increasingly important.

Southeast Michigan, then, makes a lot of sense.

“Look at Detroit and Ann Arbor and all of the technology that comes out of these places. And then all of the various colleges here, too,” Davis says.

“Look at Mcity and ACM, it’s all of the big automotive companies from Auburn Hills, Farmington Hills, and the rest. There are just so many opportunities for collaboration here.”

Collaboration is an exciting component for the company and also for the mobility industry as a whole. Davis points to local mobility companies working together to solve congestion problems that clog highways connecting Ann Arbor and metro Detroit as one such example.

Making connections and working together and then growing together. Trillium Secure chose Ann Arbor and it seems a good decision that they did.

“We’re a company that is considered one of the top companies in cyber security in the automotive industry,” Uze says.

“By placing our roots in Silicon Valley and southeastern Michigan, we’re best positioned to succeed in our industry and deliver to the cornerstone of our industry and that is southeastern Michigan.”

Photo courtesy of Trillium Secure.