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Innovation & Job News

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Macprofessionals opens new store In Farmington Hills to service iPhones


Macprofessionals, Michigan’s only independent Apple authorized service provider for iPhone, has opened a second location in Farmington Hills. The company’s first retail location is in Bay Harbor in northern Michigan.

Macprofessional’s headquarters is in Novi, where 90 engineers, sales executives, specialists and administrative staff are based. Some 14 new employees were hired to staff the new Farmington Hills store,  located at 30907 Orchard Lake Road.

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Lawrence Tech, Focus: HOPE, extend partnership

Lawrence Technological University and Focus: HOPE will offer LTU’s new Associate of Science in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Technology degree at Focus: HOPE’s training facility on Oakman Blvd. in Detroit.
Some 16 students will comprise the first class and upon completing their program will be the latest of over 115 students who have earned Lawrence Tech college degrees since LTU and Focus: HOPE launched their partnership in the early 1990s. 
LTU President and CEO Virinder Moudgil and Focus: HOPE CEO William Jones, Jr., signed the agreement Feb. 1 and met with the students, who will also have the additional opportunity to transfer seamlessly to LTU’s bachelor’s program upon completion of their associate degree.
“Focus: HOPE has long provided special opportunities to so many in Detroit,” said Moudgil. “We are very pleased to extend our relationship and provide a valuable and highly marketable degree to these young men and women who are so worthy of investment and greater opportunity.”
Jones added that “the LTU partnership is among the many programs in training and education that are helping students at Focus: HOPE enter the workforce with high levels of skills and competence. We have appreciated the long relationship that Focus: HOPE has had with Lawrence Tech, and we hope it will grow in the future.”
Focus: HOPE, www.focushope.edu, founded in 1968, is a Detroit-based organization dedicated to intelligent and practical solutions to the problems of hunger, economic disparity, inadequate education, and racial divisiveness.
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. The Brookings Institution ranks Lawrence Tech fifth nationwide for boosting graduates’ earning power, PayScale lists it in the nation’s top 10 percent of universities for graduates’ salaries, and U.S. News and World Report places it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus in Southfield, Michigan, include over 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

'Evolution, not revolution': How Harley Ellis Devereaux manages changes in leadership

When you're a longstanding company, change is inevitable -- and often painful. The leadership at Harley Ellis Devereaux, however, has become adept at managing change over the company's long history.

The architecture firm's Detroit office has recently seen much of its baby boomer leadership head off to retirement, so it has installed new leaders in its Science + Technology, Higher Education, and Healthcare studios in Southfield.

"We really look to create an orderly succession plan," says Michael Cooper, president and managing principal of the Detroit office of Harley Ellis Devereaux.

He adds that providing leadership continuity in its studios over a period of time helps its customers maintain faith in the firm. Rapid change can not only throw a firm off track but scare away customers who appreciate evolution more than revolution.

"We really want our firm to feel like an evolution," Cooper says.

And it's working. Harley Ellis Devereaux has grown its revenue by 10 percent over the last year. That has allowed it to hire a dozen people, primarily technicians, and expand its Detroit staff to 125 employees. Which is exactly what Cooper wants, and wants his customers to see.

"Slow and steady growth," Cooper says.

Source: Michael Cooper, president and managing principal of the Detroit office of Harley Ellis Devereaux
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Adaptability helps Troy-based Elefant become more than just a design firm

Change has been a constant with Elefant since it launched, and its adaptability has helped the Troy-based company grow.

Elefant got its start doing graphic design. Today it refers to itself as a multidisciplinary design and marketing firm.

"We're doing a lot of marketing strategy now," says Elena Kapintcheva, co-founder and creative director of Elefant.

Which means that Elefant helps its customers come up with a marketing strategy and then execute on it. It does that with clients ranging from nonprofits (Spaulding for Children) to small businesses in the restaurant, e-commerce, and education sectors. That work has enabled Elefant to almost double its revenue in each of the last two years.

Elefant hired its first employee earlier this year. However turnover has led the company to look to replace that hire and add a couple more in design and web development.

"We're looking to establish a good team," Kapintcheva says. "We also want to keep working on marketing strategies with our clients."

Source: Elena Kapintcheva, co-founder & creative director of Elefant
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Bloomfield Hills startup's new technology is like FaceTime for surgeons

When a new surgical tool hits the market, there is usually a learning curve involved. Often that means a representative of the manufacturer needs to be in the operating room during the procedure to help guide the surgeon.

"That's very costly," says Mike Weber, president and CEO of Quipzor. "It drives the cost of the products up."

That is why Quipzor, a Bloomfield Hills-based startup, is developing a teleconferencing platform that will eliminate the need for the manufacturer's representative to be physically in the room.

The technology is essentially FaceTime for surgeons, allowing a manufacturer's rep to teleconference into the operating room to guide them. A surgeon will have access to the same expertise, but with one fewer body in her way. Quipzor will also cut down on travel expenses for manufacturers, allowing them to lower the prices of their products. Quipzor plans to start testing its platform later this winter in dry runs (not actual procedures) with surgeons.

"We plan to do 1-2 pilots this year in southeast Michigan," Weber says.

Quipzor recently joined Automation Alley's 7Cs program, which helps local startups with advanced manufacturing through coaching, mentoring, and access to Automation Alley's resources and capital. Weber plans to use the program to help Quipzor's team of two people focus on their core audience and develop a game plan to bring its technology to market later this year.

"It's a really big issue to tackle," Weber says. "There are a lot of different players."

Source: Mike Weber, president & CEO of Quipzor
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Northwood University adds graduate programs at its Troy center


Midland-based Northwood University will expand its graduate offerings at its program center in Troy to include Master of Science degrees in accounting, taxation, finance, and economics, with courses beginning in the fall.

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Onset Marketing diversifies clientele to spur growth

Client diversification has been a key part of Onset Marketing's story since it got its start a dozen years ago. Back then it helped clients diversify to grow. Today client diversification is powering Onset Marketing's own growth.

The Wixom-based company's roots are in the automotive industry, and it used that base of support to grow into a solid boutique B2B marketing firm. It slowly began to adding other firms from different industries to its clientele in recent years.

"We are diversifying a bit," says Jim Graziano, president of Onset Marketing.

That's a bit of an understatement. Onset Marketing's automotive industry work made up two thirds of its bottom line. Today it's barely 50 percent. Its customers in other industries include firms in healthcare, finance, and education.

"We have always had this desire to go into different industries," Graziano says.

Onset Marketing got its start providing similar services for automotive firms. It helped provide the marketing materials for automotive suppliers so they could add clients in other industries. It proved to be a nice, little niche to carve out in metro Detroit.

"We helped a lot of automotive suppliers that were only working with the Big Three," Graziano says. "We helped them become non-automotive suppliers. We helped them sell to heavy trucking industry, tractor industry, and defense industry."

That allowed Onset Marketing to grow to a staff of 10 employees and the occasional intern. It has hired three people in marketing over the last year.

Source: Jim Graziano, president of Onset Marketing
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

36 county companies benefit from job training funds

Thirty-six Oakland County companies in 13 communities received more than $1 million from the state’s Skilled Trades Training Fund, enabling them to hire about 170 new employees while upgrading the skills of nearly 1,200 current employees.

Compared to last year, the number of companies awarded funding more than tripled and the amount of support received increased by more than 40 percent in Oakland County. Workers will be trained in occupations such as software programming, computer-aided design, welding, and robot operations.

“This is one state economic development program that works and creates some huge return on our investment,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “Congratulations to our 36 companies and the state for helping our workforce get the skills they need to succeed.”

The companies in turn agreed to contribute more than $4 million in matching job training funds to help prepare their workforces. Coupled with funds received beginning in 2013 from the state, Oakland County employers – through Oakland County Michigan Works! – have received more than $2 million to retrain its existing workforce and hire new employees.

The Auburn Hills location of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the world’s seventh largest auto maker, was the largest benefactor of the training funds, receiving almost $350,000. Marada Industries of South Lyon, a subsidiary of Canadian-based auto supplier Magna International, was next in line at $63,500.

Employers must apply for the state funds through their local Michigan Works! office. The grants are monitored and the companies must report on how the funds were used and that employees designated for job training actually receive it, said John Almstadt, manager of Workforce Development for the Oakland County Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs.

Other companies receiving training funds are: AirBoss, Android Industries, Beaumont Health System, Borg Warner, Fanuc Robotics, Nuspire, Orchid Orthopedic Solutions, Silent Call Communications, Softura, The Productivity Team, and Trijicon.

Oakland County Michigan Works! provides talent attraction, management and retention services for businesses, and career management, training and placement for job seekers at eight locations in Oakland County.

Automation Alley's 2016 Technology Industry Outlook

Don't miss the Automation Alley Technology Center Partner Spotlight, Feb. 22 at the Detroit Institute of Arts, in conjunction with the 2016 Technology Industry Outlook. Sponsored by Comcast Business, the Spotlight will include technology demonstrations from industry leaders including DASI Solutions, DELRAY Systems, Geometric Solutions, PROLIM, PTC, Rave Computer, Tata Technologies, Tooling U-SME and Wenzel America. Demonstrations will include collaborative robotics, 3D printing and scanning, CAD, PLM, MSV and reverse engineering applications.

"At Comcast, we like to say we are a 'big business with deep roots in small business.' We understand small business needs, growing from a small startup with less than 10 employees to now nearly 130 employees nationally. In Michigan, we provide business solutions including data, video, voice and fiber to thousands of customers. We are a proud supporter of Automation Alley and all their efforts to grow businesses – both big and small – here in Southeast Michigan."
– Pamela DoverComcast Business, Senior Director of Business Development
8-10 a.m. Networking, strolling breakfast and the Technology Center Partner Spotlight sponsored by Comcast Business

10-11 a.m. Detroit vs. Silicon Valley: Expert panel to discuss and analyze the 2016 Technology Industry Report

Automation Alley’s 2016 Technology Industry Outlook is sponsored by Oakland County Tech248™.

Comerica grant to help OU students mentor area high schoolers in STEM fields

The Pawley Lean Institute (PLI) at Oakland University has been award a $2,000 grant from the Comerica Charitable Foundation. The grant is specifically targeted to Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) students to support High School Student Workshops within the ISE Department. 

Dennis Wade, director of the PLI stated, “This grant will allow our ISE students to mentor high school students in the Oakland/Macomb area in the STEM (Science, Technology, Math, and Engineering) fields of study. In particular, the exposure to ISE will spark interest in the STEM field of study for both education and potential careers within engineering, and we thank Comerica for their support.”

“Supporting education is one of our priorities,” explained Janice Tessier, president of the Comerica Charitable Foundation. “The Comerica Charitable Foundation is proud to support Oakland University’s efforts to encourage area high school students to consider STEM-related majors in their higher education endeavors.”     

Oakland’s High School Student Workshops program promotes ISE and Lean Learning as it introduces ISE as a field of study to high school students from both a college degree and career perspective. The program consists of three visits from high school classes to the ISE department as a partnership program with the PLI at Oakland University. The program will engage over 100 high school students and runs during normal school hours. 

Components to the sessions held at OU include:
  • Hands on, tool orientation
  • Lean/Continuous Improvement exercises
  • Ergonomics using simulation tools
  • Product Life Cycle Management
  • Manufacturing Systems Simulation
According to Dr. Robert Van Til, ISE department chair and Pawley professor of lean studies, “We are excited to have the Pawley Lean Institute join us on our STEM outreach activities involving Lean. My ISE department colleagues and I have worked with a local high school on a pilot STEM outreach workshop for the past two years, and this grant from Comerica will allow the Pawley Lean Institute to join us to work together on expanding our STEM outreach activities to other K-12 schools.”


Couple sells salsa that is inspired by gods


Dan and Stacy Pillera knew they’d be up against tough competition when they started making and selling fresh salsa nearly two years ago.

“We’re going up against the largest fresh salsa maker in the country,” Dan said, “and they make it in Michigan and we know we have our work cut out for us.”

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Aviation exec: Success comes from stubbornness


As a boy, Rick Nini was fascinated with flying.

He was inspired, he said, by the NASA space program, and at 12 or 13, his parents put him on a new, commercial jet to fly by himself from Michigan to California to see his aunt, uncle and cousins.

“I think it was a 747, a brand-new plane,” Nini, 60, recalled. “After that, I knew I wanted to do this, to fly.”

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LTU department chair develops mobile technology to reduce falls by seniors

Thomas Goulding, chair of LTU’s Department of Math and Computer Science, is leading a team of physicians, scientists, and professors who have developed a product using mobile technology to alert health care providers when an elderly person is about to get out of a wheelchair.

Falling is a serious problem for the elderly with potentially life-changing and even fatal results. Thousands of falls occur every year when an elderly person in a wheelchair attempts to walk without the assistance that he or she needs. But caregivers can’t watch an elderly person at all times.

The research team has come up with a simple electronic device named Sparrow that will alert a caregiver when an elderly person makes movements in preparation for leaving the wheelchair. Sparrow is a mobile Android device that will provide the caregiver with continuous information about the movement and posture of someone in a wheelchair. That information will allow the caregiver to come to the patient’s aid before a potentially life-threatening fall occurs.

Sparrow fuses multiple sensors, a microprocessor, artificial intelligence and Internet technologies into a tool that is easy to use and which requires little administration and a minimum of staff training.

“It was extraordinarily difficult to design a product like Sparrow that has to be extraordinarily simple to use,” Goulding said.
The product, which has been in development for four years, is entering into clinical testing in Michigan and Massachusetts early in 2016.

Goulding is the primary architect of the device and the co-founder of ElderSafe Technologies Inc, along with Leon Deligiannidis, a researcher at MIT. Together they have published results of their work on Sparrow in peer-reviewed biomedical and bioinformatics journals.

The idea was born when Deligiannidis’ mother-in-law had a fatal fall. His wife was just a few feet away in another room, but couldn’t prevent the fall from happening because she hadn’t been alerted to her mother’s movements.

Recently, several LTU students have become involved by helping to develop marketing and technical documents for Sparrow. Faculty member Na Yu has done some mathematical modeling, and adjunct Hans Mills is working on software and testing with Goulding.

South Lyon library offers social media marketing classes


The Salem-South Lyon District Library is hosting a series of free program focused on online marketing.
Register at www.webworldadvantage.com/seminars/upcoming-seminars or ssldl.evanced.info/signup/EventCalendar.aspx.

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Denso exceeds previous investment announcement, adds 3,000 NA jobs since 2014


At the North American International Auto Show in 2013, Denso International America Inc.said it would invest $750 million in North America and hire 1,200 employees.

Three years later, the Southfield-based supplier proves it missed its forecasting —  by a lot.

Since the announcement, Denso has invested more than $1 billion and added 3,000 new jobs in North America since 2014.

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