A glimpse at Ann Arbor’s innovative business landscape

Aerial view of Ann Arbor's Southside. (Oxford Companies)

ANN ARBOR – There are dozens of reasons why businesses want an Ann Arbor address – the epic college sports (thanks to the University of Michigan), the incredible coffee scene, the family-friendly living, the dating scene – the list goes on.

However, one part of Ann Arbor culture really stands out to us as especially compelling – the sheer innovation happening throughout the city, and the impact our incredible startups and businesses are having on our community and the world.

And, when we say innovation, we don’t just mean “tech” (although Ann Arbor has a vibrant tech scene, thanks in no small part to Ann Arbor SPARK). We mean all kinds of businesses that demonstrate innovation across industries – organizations that are pushing the norms and delivering revolutionary results.

Here at Oxford Companies, we’re proud to work with dozens of innovative organizations including tech firms, service providers, restauranteurs, retailers, nonprofits, and others. These partners contribute to something that benefits us all – a thriving Ann Arbor and southeastern Michigan economy.

Part of the reason that Ann Arbor continues to thrive is that our local culture places so much value on innovation and creativity – so if you have a great idea for a unique product or service, Ann Arbor could be a great place for your business to take root.

Here are just a few of the innovative businesses we partner with to keep Ann Arbor as innovative as ever.


NeuMoDx Molecular is an integrated molecular diagnostic company that services hospital and clinical laboratories. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year, NeuMoDx has shifted much of its efforts toward creating tests and testing supplies that combat the spread of the disease throughout the United States and the world.

An expansion, doubling the company’s original footprint, took place at Eisenhower Parkway in August of last year, and NeuMoDx was lauded for its contribution to fighting COVID by accelerating the production of tests. QIAGEN, a molecular diagnostic technology company based in Germany, acquired NeuMoDx in the latter part of 2020 because of NeuMoDx’s unique combination of speed, flexibility, throughput and ease of use for laboratory developed tests.

NeuMoDx’s innovation is quite literally changing the world right now during the current public health crisis, and we’re honored to work with this groundbreaking company.

A2 Aviary

Ever heard of a ‘circus space’? Many of us at Oxford hadn’t either, until we started working with the innovative A2 Aviary. At the Aviary, students visit the circus space to get instruction in the aerial arts: silks, trapeze, lyra, sling, and rope, as well as hand balance, pole dance, contortion, and more (think kind of like Cirque du Soleil).

It’s a new and exciting kind of exercise for many students and a lifelong practice for others. We think that although the art itself may be ancient, A2 Aviary’s ‘athletics meets creativity’ application of aerial arts is nothing short of innovative.

Backyard Brains

What could possibly inspire more innovation than the brain itself? Our friends at Backyard Brains are doing important, incredible work helping students delve into neuroscience.

Founded by two University of Michigan Ph.D. students back in 2009, Backyard Brains has a variety of products that introduce young people to brain function and research, and has been cited and featured on Sanjay Gupta’s show “The Next List” on CNN, “Bill Nye Saves the World”, and “In Search Of” on the History Channel. Check out their website to learn more – Backyard Brains is doing truly fascinating work.


This Ann Arbor-based organization was built on the belief that marketing agencies can be better – looking out for the interests of its clients, operating with transparency, and building goals based on real business needs.

Unlike some agencies that focus on being splashy and conspicuous, build/create’s innovative spirit is inspired by its commitment to intentionality and use of data to make decisions. And as anyone who has worked with build/create will know, being intentional and following the data often leads to the most innovative ideas of all.


What started as an army surplus store in the early 1970s has innovated itself again and again to remain not just relevant, but integral, to the culture of downtown Ann Arbor and especially the campus area near the University of Michigan.

Bivouac was founded by Ed Davidson, who continues to run the store approximately 50 years later. The secret to the shop’s success? Innovation, of course! Bivouac has evolved to meet its customers’ needs – from outdoorsy athletic wear to the trendiest high-end jeans, you’ll find a huge range of apparel, shoes, and gear at this Ann Arbor mainstay.

To learn more about Oxford Companies, visit www.oxfordcompanies.com.