Ann Arbor-based U-M’s MTRAC Awards $700,000 to 10 Technologies


The University of Michigan’s Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) Innovation Hub for Advanced Transportation awarded $700,000 to 10 technologies with commercial potential aimed at addressing transportation issues and opportunities.

MTRAC, in partnership with Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation initiative is designed to support applicants with high-tech projects in the advanced transportation space from higher education institutions, non-profit research centers, and hospital systems across the state to help get them into the market.

“Michigan firms continue to lead in applying technology to create the future of transportation and mobility, and we are excited to add the cutting-edge research from our state’s universities to this effort,” says Eric Petersen, program director of U-M MTRAC Advanced Transportation. “These researcher teams are exceptionally talented and hardworking, and their technologies will enable safer, lower-cost, less-polluting forms of transportation.”

The following projects will receive up to $100,000 in funding:

  • Advanced Wireless Technology from U-M, a system that provides long coverage-range and high data-rate connectivity to enable autonomous vehicle data flow and infotainment data flow
  • All-Weather LIDARs System for Autonomous Vehicles from U-M, a light detection and ranging system that provides improved object recognition in inclement weather
  • Coaxial Thermophone for Active Noise Control in Vehicles from Michigan Technological University, a carbon nanotube thin-film thermophone for the exhaust pipe to control noise at low system size and weight
  • Durable, Elastomeric, Antimicrobial Coatings with Instant and Persistent Efficacy from U-M, which is antimicrobial coatings for high-touch interior surfaces of vehicles
  • High-Resolution RADAR Imaging for Autonomous Vehicles from Michigan State University, which uses a millimeter-wave distributed RADAR imager for high-resolution imaging, which operates in all weather conditions and costs less than existing LIDAR systems
  • Self-Powered IoT for Smart Manufacturing and Transportation from U-M, a vibration energy harvester high-power density, wide operation bandwidth, multi-axis operation capability, and low cost for powering Internet of Things nodes

These projects will receive up to $35,000 in kickstart funding:

  • Boosting the Accuracy of High-Speed 3-D Printers at U-M, a software that applies vibration compensation algorithms to improve printer accuracy without compromising its speed
  • Multi-Color Irradiation System for Ultra Rapid Additive Manufacturing from U-M, a high- speed 3-D printer system that creates parts through projecting irradiation patterns into resin
  • Prediction of Fatigue Property of Materials and Components Based on Hardness Data from Western Michigan University uses a hardness-based method and procedure for estimation of high-cycle fatigue properties of steels
  • Virtual RSW Weldability Prediction from Wayne State University, a system that enables increased efficiency of weldability analysis for new weld joint designs

A 15-member oversight committee of venture capital professionals, industry experts from leading transportation firms, and experienced entrepreneurs reviewed 26 proposals from six universities. Factors considered included the capability to identify opportunities and propose effective solutions, researcher team strength, and commercialization plans.

U-M has been administering the MTRAC Advanced Transportation program since 2012. The program has since received 91 project proposals, funded 34 of them, and generated more than $47 million in follow-on funding. Due to the program’s success, U-M gained statewide status in February 2017.

“Michigan is uniquely committed to leveraging the talent, network, and infrastructure we possess within our state by creating powerful collaborations to grow and build our entrepreneurial ecosystem,” says Denise Graves, university relations director at the MEDC. “Investing in our research and our talent through statewide models like MTRAC is vital in achieving our mission of growing our state’s economy through university technology transfer and paving the path for bringing new technologies related to mobility into the commercial market.”

Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University, and Wayne State University also have MTRAC programs. Each university focuses on a different industry, including agriculture biology, advanced applied materials, life sciences, advanced transportation, and biomedical.

The Michigan Strategic Fund supports MTRAC, and the MEDC Entrepreneurship and Innovation initiative manages it. MTRAC programs have funded 169 projects, helped develop 32 startups, created 101 jobs, secured more than $132 million in follow-on funding, and licensed technology to 22 companies.

Funding for the new round of U-M Innovation Hub projects begins Aug. 1, 2018 and runs through July 31, 2019. The Statewide U-M MTRAC Innovation Hub Transportation program will accept new applications beginning in January 2019.

The MEDC is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness, and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy.

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