Ann Arbor startup helps Jet’s Pizza launch text-to-order technology
ANN ARBOR – Jet’s Pizza is hoping to disrupt the industry with its new text-to-order technology. The pizza company has partnered with Ann Arbor-based startup Ordr AI to make text orders for customers a reality. More than 75% of stores are currently operating the technology and more than 1 million text orders have been placed since its launch. Jet’s Pizza is now offering 20% off pizzas to customers to text in their orders. “We teamed up, we hustled, we innovated, and we made something great,” John Jetts, President of Jet’s Pizza said in a statement.
Ann Arbor SPARK to manage statewide Michigan internship program
The internships will be funded by Ann Arbor SPARK and a grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund. ANN ARBOR – The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) will partner with Ann Arbor SPARK to launch the Michigan STEM Forward internship program on a statewide level. SPARK has run the program on a local level through the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti SmartZone with a decade of positive results. In scaling the program up, MEDC will work in partnership with SPARK to place 425-450 STEM students currently attending Michigan colleges annually into STEM-focused internships throughout Michigan. “Ann Arbor SPARK is thrilled to leverage our decade of experience running our own Ann Arbor-based internship program and take the opportunity to administer the Michigan STEM Forward program on behalf of the state,” said Bill Mayer, Ann Arbor SPARK’s vice president of entrepreneurial services.
Take a look inside University of Michigan’s new Ford Motor Co. robotics complex
An aerial view of the Ford Robotics Building at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich.ANN ARBOR – University of Michigan and Ford Motor Co. are opening a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to developing robots and roboticists. The Ford Motor Company Robotics Building is on U-M’s North Campus. The building’s fourth floor holds a robotics and mobility research lab for Ford -- the first on any university campus, as well as 100 Ford engineers and researchers. AdA workspace in the Ford Robotics Building at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. The atrium of the Ford Robotics Building at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Picture this: University of Michigan students create toaster that burns images onto bread
Three engineering students at the University of Michigan invented a mechanism that “prints” images onto toast as part of an entrepreneurship class taught by Dr. Eric Fretz. “We were looking for a fun class to take alongside our heavier engineering classes,” said Niket Parikh. AdOn the first day of the course, Dr. Fretz told his students to split into groups for the semester. (Niket Parikh)They pitched it to Dr. Fretz, who liked it so much he challenged them to print one of U-M’s most iconic figures on bread. With periodic check-ins and energetic mentoring Dr. Fretz ensures each team has the best chance to reach their full potential.
Ann Arbor SPARK, Michigan House to host panels at SXSW
ANN ARBOR – Michigan House is again preparing to serve as a platform for the state’s innovators and creatives to connect with the worldwide audience that attends the South by Southwest Conference and Festival (SXSW) next week. In the moment it was devastating, but even within a couple days it was clear the right decision had been made,” said Ted Velie, a co-founder of Michigan House. We were thrilled then, that SXSW found a way for us to still connect this year.”AdOver the course of the five day virtual conference, Michigan House will host three Official SXSW Panel Discussions, a virtual meet-up for entrepreneurs, a Michigan Startup Portfolio, and a Michigan House Booth on SXSW’s digital platform. AdSee the schedule below for the panels, organized by Ann Arbor SPARK’s Komal Doshi, and the Michigan-focused SXSW event. Hosted by Start Garden, Ann Arbor SPARK, Detroit Startup Week & MEDCTo attend the free event, register here.
Concordia University Ann Arbor: Why we use augmented, virtual reality in the classroom
ANN ARBOR – Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are not the same thing. There are some overlaps between AR and VR, but each field is trying to accomplish something conceptually different. Concordia nursing students, for example, can build their bedside manner as well as their skillset using AR and VR. AR and VR evokes a sense of wonder and critical thinking, while allowing students to be immersed in the chosen content. AdHands-on learning with AR and VR at ConcordiaAre you thinking about a career in nursing or something healthcare related?
Ann Arbor tech startup reimagines keyless home entry and smart access
ANN ARBOR, Mich – Although relatively new to Tree Town, technology startup PassiveBolt Inc has already gained traction for its innovative smart access module and its reimagining of keyless home entry. One of the first of its kind, the smart lock also freezes a door’s deadbolt when it senses an attempted security breach, like lock picking. Founded in 2018, Ann Arbor's PassiveBolt is introducing consumers to smart access. (PassiveBolt Inc)Maiga said that PassiveBolt’s first year was spent further developing its Shepherd Lock but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit things slowed down. It also intends to expand into other areas of keyless entry and smart access as time goes on.
See how the Ann Arbor region compares to other U.S. tech hubs
ANN ARBOR – Ann Arbor SPARK recently released the third iteration of its Benchmarking the Ann Arbor Region report. Across the remaining set of metrics, Ann Arbor ranked:Third in population movement, or net migration, up from fifth place in 2018. As a result of controlling for population, Ann Arbor continues to rise above the rest. However, when comparing to Austin, Berkeley, Boulder, and Portland, Ann Arbor is relatively inexpensive. “Aggregate statistics are sometimes useful, but they tend to hide disparities in opportunity,” stated the report’s author Alex West, director of research at Ann Arbor SPARK.
University of Michigan students go viral with their Scrunchie Shots
“The morning of, I had an idea for a scrunchie shot,” said Chief Executive Officer Gaynor, who was a junior at the time. They sold their first Scrunchie Shots on campus at a deep discount in November ahead of the U-M vs. Michigan State game. Scrunchie Shot co-founders Justine Abbo (left) wearing Mojito, Catherine (middle) wearing Mojito, Heather Gaynor (right) wearing Shamrock Shooter. AdTo date, they have sold more than 300 units and e-commerce platform Shopify placed Scrunchie Shot in the top 6% of all stores that launched same week they did. Scrunchie Shot launched its St. Patrick's Day collection on Feb. 22, 2021.
Here are the 21 largest employers in Washtenaw County
Pizza Prep School in the Domino's Pizza World Resource Center in Ann Arbor. The advertiser paid a fee to promote this sponsored article and may have influenced or authored the content. ANN ARBOR – One way to reflect on a regional economy is to check out the top employers and their industries, including public and private organizations. Here’s the latest list identifying the top employers in Washtenaw County compiled by Ann Arbor SPARK. Ann Arbor SPARK updates the list annually in January.
Ann Arbor’s PassiveBolt Inc named CES Innovation Awards Honoree for second consecutive year
ANN ARBOR – PassiveBolt Inc. announced Monday it has been named a CES 2021 Innovation Awards Honoree for the second year in a row for its newest Shepherd Lock product. The world’s most influential technology event, CES 2021 is taking place for the first time digitally now through Jan. 14. Owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Assiciation, the annual CES Innovation Awards program is a competition which recognizes groundbreaking consumer technologies across 28 product categories. PassiveBolt’s Shepherd Lock Gen2 is a home lock which features keyless entry technology and provides access based on facial recognition and touch. “We are thrilled to win this highly prestigious award two years in a row,” Kabir Maiga, PassiveBolt co-founder said in a news release.
Metro Detroit small businesses turn to social media to stay afloat
DETROIT – Many Metro Detroit businesses had to come up with a new way to sell when the first stay-at-home orders were issued in March. Jessica Hall, a teacher turned business owner, runs Urban Crown from the basement of her home. She uses Facebook live streams to help sell items. Like many small businesses, Hall and Gaskins had to reinvent themselves when COVID hit. One Metro Detroit store decided to put safety first and the response from customers has been more than they ever imagined.
U-M’s Mott named among nation’s most innovative children’s hospitals by Parents Magazine
Mott Children’s Hospital is named in Parents Magazine’s January 2021 issue as one of the most innovative children’s hospitals in the nation. The publications surveyed the country’s 50 leading children’s hospitals about their newest innovations, technology and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the second time the magazine has ranked pediatric hospitals for innovation. Parents spotlighted Mott for its innovation in research and treatment of pediatric brain tumors. Research at Mott has demonstrated that tumor DNA in spinal fluid could help diagnose and treat young cancer patients with aggressive brain tumors.
Recent college grad returns to Ann Arbor, lands job as result of a2Tech360 job seeker trek
ANN ARBOR – Claire Stetten recently started a new job with Ann Arbor-based DocNetwork, a tech startup that provides electronic health record systems for summer camps, childcare and schools. DocNetwork hired Claire after connecting with her during the 2020 A2 Tech Trek virtual job seeker trek as part of a2Tech360. "Ann Arbor is a gem in the Midwest with its great restaurants and accessible recreational areas — two things that were important considerations for me. A good friend who had previously interned with SPARK pointed her toward the organization’s job seeker resources, including the job portal. "I think going through the SPARK job portal helped my resume standout more.”Claire was also getting ready to participate in the virtual a2Tech360, including A2 Tech Trek and its inaugural Job Seeker Trek.
Ann Arbor’s Llamasoft acquired by Coupa Software for $1.5B
ANN ARBOR – California-based Coupa Software announced Monday that it has acquired AI supply chain company Llamasoft for approximately $1.5 billion. Llamasoft’s AI-powered cloud platform helps companies make quick, informed supply chain decisions. Now more than ever, supply chain agility remains critical as economic conditions, consumer preferences and the political landscape continue to change amid the global pandemic. At the beginning of the year, Llamasoft launched its newest product llama.ai, which helps bring forward valuable insights via proven supply chain algorithms. “We are very excited about joining forces with Coupa,” Razat Gaurav, CEO at LLamasoft said in a news release.
Ann Arbor SPARK to connect job seekers, employers at Tech Homecoming on November 24
ANN ARBOR – Ann Arbor SPARK’s annual Tech Homecoming event is going virtual this year. Tech Homecoming, an event that connects growing companies and job seekers, will be held online this year on Tuesday, November 24, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Although Tech Homecoming is free, registration is required. “Originally conceived as a way to kick off the long Thanksgiving weekend, Tech Homecoming is a chance to show off the abundant career opportunities Ann Arbor has to offer,” said Jenn Cornell Queen, Ann Arbor SPARK senior vice president, marketing, communications, and events. For more information about jobs available in the Ann Arbor region, visit: www.annarborusa.org/jobs.
Ann Arbor SPARK receives Excellence in Economic Development Award
ANN ARBOR – Ann Arbor SPARK won a gold category award for its Ann Arbor as a Mobility Living Lab, a project in the Public-Private Partnerships category of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC)'s 2020 Excellence in Economic Development Awards Program. “Once again, Ann Arbor is recognized as a region that excels in innovation and collaboration,” said Paul Krutko, Ann Arbor SPARK president and CEO. Ann Arbor SPARK works closely with the region’s academic institutions, public officials, and private sector businesses to build an environment that attracts mobility companies and talent to the region. Ford has partnered with the city of Ann Arbor for its Ford City Insights Platform. “The winners of IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development awards represent the very best of economic development and exemplify the ingenuity, integrity, and leadership that our profession strives for each and every day,” said 2020 IEDC Board Chair and One Columbus CEO Kenny McDonald.
Mobility veteran joins Ann Arbor’s Refraction AI as new CEO
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Mobility industry veteran Luke Schneider has been named as the new chief executive officer of Ann Arbor-based Refraction AI. Schneider has had over 25 years of experience in the mobility and transportation industries, including executive positions Zipcar, wejo, Flexcar and Silvercar. As CEO, Texas-based Schneider will work on Refraction AI’s expansion plan while cementing the startup’s involvement with contactless delivery. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Refraction AI has received a four-fold increase in delivery orders from its partnering Ann Arbor eateries and has begun to scaleup its fleet of autonomous vehicle robots. In June it began using its robots to help deliver groceries through a partnership with the Produce Station.
Ann Arbor’s Llamasoft wins local business award for thirteenth consecutive year
ANN ARBOR – For the thirteenth year in a row, AI supply chain software company Llamasoft has been named a FastTrack winner by Ann Arbor SPARK. The annual awards are given to companies in Washtenaw and Livingston counties that demonstrate year over year growth. Congratulations to LLamasoft!”This year’s FastTrack winners were required to have an annual growth of 20 percent over the last three years and a revenue of at least $100,000 in 2016. “We are honored to be recognized by Ann Arbor SPARK as a FastTrack company,” Sandra Moran, LLamasoft’s Chief Marketing Officer, said in a statement. “To achieve consistent growth for over 13 years we have remained focused on delivering value to our global customers.
Concordia University Ann Arbor’s School of Nursing innovates virtual learning during pandemic
ANN ARBOR – For the past 12-18 months, Concordia University Ann Arbor’s School of Nursing has been working on the development of enhanced virtual learning for their students. One of those enhancements being the mobile camera unit. Mobile Camera UnitThe mobile camera unit is comprised of three cameras simultaneously directed at a patient that provides viewpoints from the ceiling, front, back, and sides of the room. Mobile camera unit platform used by CUAA nursing staff - allowing students to choose the camera angle that fits their learning needs. Within the next few months, the SON also plans to start embedding information from the mobile camera unit into AR & VR headsets.
Regional companies celebrated for remarkable growth at annual a2Tech360 FastTrack Awards
ANN ARBOR – Kicking off a2Tech360, Ann Arbor SPARK presented its 22nd annual FastTrack Awards to 19 companies located in Washtenaw and Livingston counties. More than half of the 2020 FastTrack Award recipients were multiple-year winners. Rehmann is the 2020 Ann Arbor SPARK FastTrack Awards accounting partner and verified all of the award applications. FastTrack Award winners were recognized on Friday, September 18, during a virtual celebration and supported by presenting sponsor Northstar Bank. Eight-year award winnerOxford Companies is rooted in acquiring, managing, leasing, and constructing commercial and multifamily properties in the Ann Arbor area.
Ann Arbor SPARKs annual a2Tech360 goes virtual for 2020
ANN ARBOR, Mich. Ann Arbor SPARK recently announced its popular annual a2Tech360 programming will be delivered virtually this year, September 18-26, 2020. An Ann Arbor SPARK initiative, a2Tech360 promotes the Ann Arbor region as an area of innovation. In light of public health guidelines around COVID-19, Ann Arbor SPARK and its partners determined the safest way to achieve the mission of a2Tech360 was to deliver the events virtually this year, said Ann Arbor SPARK president and CEO, Paul Krutko. Tuesday, September 22Ann Arbor SPARK Annual MeetingThe Ann Arbor SPARK Annual Meeting offers business, government, and academic leaders a unique opportunity to hear about successes in the region over the past year. Ann Arbor SPARKs annual meeting is sponsored by DTE Foundation, Comcast Business, First Martin Corporation, Bank of Ann Arbor, PNC Bank, Toyota, Yeo & Yeo, Comerica, Consumers Energy, Destination Ann Arbor, ITC Michigan, J.S.