PlanetM to assist four Michigan mobility startups

LANSING—PlanetM, the mobility initiative of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., announced a fourth round of PlanetM Mobility Grants to four mobility and technology companies.

PlanetM Mobility Grants are designed to help mobility companies with the resources needed to deploy their solutions in Michigan, ultimately optimizing the movement of people, goods and data.

More than $300,000 in grant funding was awarded this round to address some of the industry’s toughest transportation challenges, including gaps in electric vehicle charging stations, after-school traffic congestion, and curbside management. Since its inception in 2018, the PlanetM Mobility Grant program has provided more than $1.5 million in grant funding to 20 mobility startups looking to test, refine and deploy their technologies in Michigan.

Said Charlie Tyson, technology activation manager at PlanetM: “We have an opportunity and a responsibility to improve the quality of life for our citizens by solving the transportation hurdles they face. Being at the forefront of the emerging mobility landscape, we’re able to see firsthand how these mobility pilots can significantly impact the lives of those in our communities.”

The Round Four recipients were:

e-Mobility Analytics ($75,000)

Ann Arbor-based e-Mobility Analytics’ primary focus is EV solar charging system design, data acquisition, and analysis, with a specialization in solar charging consultation and advocacy. In partnership with the city of Ann Arbor, e-Mobility Analytics will install their prototype Electric Vehicle Solar Charging Station, which uses solar, battery, and grid backup for Level 2 service in downtown Ann Arbor, to provide sustainable energy for EV charging and to promote the imminent transition to true zero carbon in electric mobility.

The installation will offer a highly visible charging point, create public awareness of solar charging, and provide invaluable data for the development of solar charging stations around Michigan and the region. The project will employ Michigan-based suppliers, fabricators and skilled installers supporting our state’s economy and the growing electric automotive industry.

Said Jonathan Dreyfuss, CEO of e-Mobility Analytics: “Our company’s vision is to lead in the deployment of clean, affordable and sustainable energy to power our emerging zero carbon transportation future for everyone and everywhere, from urban areas to state parks. Solar EV charging has many benefits, including reducing e-mobility transportation costs for everyone, cleaning up our air, land and water as we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels while creating new economic opportunities in the manufacturing, installation and servicing of these new charging systems. For our company to be located in the region that is the hub of America’s e-mobility transportation future makes this project even more relevant.”

Parkofon ($77,000)

In collaboration with the German auto supplier Continental and the University of Detroit Mercy’s College of Engineering & Science, Alexandria, Va.-based Parkofon will deploy a fully automated student parking on-demand technology on the UDM campus. This high-accuracy geo-positioning system minimizes search time for a parking space and has the potential to significantly improve fuel efficiency while eliminating the headache and frustration often associated with campus parking. Paired with the Continental Parkpocket mobile app, the platform automatically assigns the nearest available parking spot when drivers, including EV owners, reach campus, improving the overall commuter experience.

Said Evgeny Klochikhin, CEO of Parkofon: “Commuters will be happy with real-time space availability and associated time and fuel savings.”

PikMyKid ($60,000)

Tampa, Fla.-based PikMyKid will expand its school traffic and safety system in Michigan, in collaboration with several rural schools in Carleton, Caro, Hillman and West Branch. PikMyKid technology ensures the safety of kids, and drives a positive change in their communities by empowering schools with affordable technology. Initial research has shown that schools have consistently observed reduced traffic congestion, increased carpooling among parents, and created safer processes for kids to walk home after school, creating healthier and more sustainable school communities. As part of this pilot, PikMyKid will be providing a district-wide view for schools to share their benefits, setting a framework for other regions to follow.

Said Pat Bhava, CEO and founder of PikMyKid: “Founded by a passionate group of educators and parents, PikMyKid currently serves schools in more than 42 states and seven countries. We fundamentally believe that school safety should not be a function of its zip code and we are appreciative of this grant initiative to improve access for school districts that may have limited budgets. We want to use this opportunity to help Michigan school districts to drive innovation in student safety and exemplify themselves as mobility friendly schools in their neighborhood.”

Zown ($95,000)

As mobility-as-a-service platforms heat up, Toronto-based Zown will bring its mobility platform technology to Detroit in partnership with the city of Detroit and rideshare providers, to improve the efficiency and accessibility of ride-hailing services for consumers by tackling ‘pick-up confusion,’ a condition caused by drivers circling repeatedly to find their passengers in high-traffic areas, further contributing to congestion and delays. This pilot project aims to streamline ride-hailing pick-ups by designating a unique digital location for each trip request, ensuring passengers meet their driver at the optimal place every time. A first-of-its-kind pilot, the data obtained through each trip will then be shared with the city to help plan for curb management and re-zoning, including helping properties integrate more seamlessly with ride-hail providers.

“Zown’s partnership with the City of Detroit to provide digital curbside management marks the first attempt to truly integrate ridehailing services at the municipal level and ensure upside for passengers, drivers and nearby properties,” said Saleem Ahmad, CEO of Zown. “Our objective is to reduce unnecessary congestion and make ridehailing a more attractive and accessible option for Detroit residents.”

The PlanetM Mobility Grants encourage mobility startups and corporations to deploy their technologies in Michigan, or prove out their technology at Michigan’s state-of-the-art testing facilities. PlanetM partners with NextEnergy to support project management services for each pilot program. NextEnergy works directly with the selected startups and corporations to establish grant agreement terms, outline each statement of work—including objectives, milestones and a timeline—and oversees the implementation of the pilot by serving as the fiduciary to disperse grant and cost-share funding. More at

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