ANN ARBOR — The University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship, in partnership with the UM Mobility Transformation Center, is launching the pilot of TechLab at Mcity, a new opportunity for collaboration among university research, advanced transportation startups and student innovators.
TechLab is designed to create unique educational opportunities and accelerate the success of participating companies. The uses UM engineering talent and the new Mcity autonomous vehicle test center to drive connected and driverless innovation closer to
TechLab is intended to replicate many of the attributes of startup incubators with a heavy emphasis on student intern learning experiences — allowing students to witness first-hand how a lab innovation becomes a company, which in turn equips them with the knowledge and skills of how product development takes place in the real world.
“By creating a structure that allows startup companies from around the globe to access top-flight talent and resources that would otherwise be unavailable to them, we believe we have hit upon a model that will create a winning opportunity for all involved,” said Thomas Frank, executive director of the UM College of Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship.
“Unleashing the passion of students and the drive of new companies — think of the opportunities,” added Volker Sick, UM associate vice president for research, natural sciences and engineering. “We are uniquely positioned to launch this incubator experience around new mobility ideas by leveraging the educational strengths and expertise of the CFE and MTC.”
TechLab’s pilot program launches with Zendrive, a fast-growing Bay Area startup that recently announced $13.5 million in Series A funding. Zendrive’s technology taps mobile sensors to measure driver safety through actions like acceleration, braking, swerving and phone use, among many others.
Founded by Google and Facebook veterans, Zendrive uses artificial intelligence algorithms and billions of data points to analyze sensor data and return actionable insights for fleets and drivers. Because it’s software-based, managing and scaling within any number of vehicles is flexible, simple and affordable.
Zendrive CEO Jonathan Matus said UM students and staff, “paired with its unrivaled connected-car and autonomous-vehicle testing ground at Mcity, is the ideal environment for us to shape the next generation of safety technologies. Collaborating with Michigan
allows us to explore what is possible in the future of transportation.”