DBusiness Daily Update: Automation Alley Invests in California Inspection Firm, and More

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
The Automation Alley Industry 4.0 Accelerator has invested in UnitX, a startup focused on automating defect inspections. // Courtesy of UnitX
The Automation Alley Industry 4.0 Accelerator has invested in UnitX, a startup focused on automating defect inspections. // Courtesy of UnitX

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Automation Alley Industry 4.0 Accelerator Invests $110K in California Inspection Firm

The Automation Alley Industry 4.0 Accelerator, the nation’s first Industry 4.0 specific accelerator, has invested in Santa Clara, Calif.-based UnitX, a startup focused on automating defect inspections at high throughput and high repeatability using deep learning and robotics.

UnitX recently closed an $11 million Series A Round and will receive a total investment of $110,000 in capital programming and contracted services from the Automation Alley Industry 4.0 Accelerator. The company, whose founding team includes several University of Michigan alumni, will work with the accelerator to expand its Michigan presence.

In its current work with Melling, an automotive component company in Jackson, UnitX deployed its technology into production and minimized the false acceptance of defective parts by 10-times and increased cycle time by 40 percent in comparison to human visual inspection.

UnitX’s hardware lead, Boyun Wang, who oversaw UnitX’s successful deployment at Melling, highlighted the impact of automation.

“Quality inspection, such as surface defect detection, is a pain point for manufacturers,” says Wang. “When we rely on human inspection, it is hard to achieve consistent and accurate results due to human subjectivity. We believe technologies like deep learning are a real game changer to help companies increase productivity beyond what they could ever imagine.”

Tom Kelly, executive director and CEO of Automation Alley says accelerator is a vital complement to the ongoing efforts Michigan is making to increase adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies in Michigan.

“UnitX is a perfect example of the type of young tech companies we need to escalate our advanced manufacturing goals,” Kelly says. “I look forward to seeing them grow with the continuing support of the Accelerator investment.”

In Related News: Automation Alley and its partners Michigan Economic Development Corp.,  Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University, and Jackson-based Lean Rocket Lab, are conducting a Manu-Tech Pitch Day on Dec. 8. The theme of the pitch day is Enabling Operational Resiliency in Manufacturing. Additionally, Kelly and MEDC CEO Quentin L. Messer Jr. will participate in a Q&A session about Michigan’s ongoing Industry 4.0 efforts.

Manu-Tech Pitch Day will be open to the public virtually. The day also will include an update on participants from Pitch Day 2020, a panel of Michigan manufacturing companies utilizing Industry 4.0 technologies, company pitches for the accelerator, and other targeted Industry 4.0 sessions. Registration and additional information are available here.

First Independence Corp. Receives Investments from National Banking Institutions

Detroit-based First Independence Corp., parent company of First Independence Bank, a minority depository institution, today announced that it has closed equity capital investments with three commercial banking institutions.

The 51-year-old financial institution received equity investments from Citi, headquartered in New York; Old National Bancorp, based in Evansville, Ind.; and U.S. Bank, headquartered in Minneapolis. The investments will strengthen the capital base of the minority-owned institution and support its growth initiatives.

This comes after First Independence Bank’s recent announcement of its national expansion plans to open its newest branches in Minneapolis.

“We are elated that our collaborative views and actions for growth and sustainability amongst institutions have yielded equity investments from major financial institutions such as Citi, Old National, and U.S. Bank as First Independence Bank forges ahead to expand in the Midwest,” says Kenneth Kelly, chairman and CEO, First Independence Bank.

Donnelly Penman & Partners represented First Independence Corp. as exclusive placement agent and Nelson Mullins represented as company counsel. Honigman served as agent’s counsel.

HTC Global Services in Troy Reveals New Brand Identity

HTC Global Services in Troy announced that its companies, CareTech Solutions and Ciber Inc., are uniting under one name and one brand — HTC Global Services.

As part of this effort, the company has adopted a new identity that it says embodies its renewed ambitions and aspirations. It reflects both the transformation journey and the transformative impact it has for its customers, employees, and stakeholders, now and beyond, according to the company.

HTC acquired CareTech Solutions, a health care technology leader in North America, in 2014, and Ciber Inc., a global IT consulting services and outsourcing company, in 2017. These acquisitions strengthened and widened HTC’s ability to deliver customer service with a comprehensive set of services and solutions, and to fulfil its strategic growth objectives across industry verticals.

“At the heart of our decision to unify under a single brand is — as it always has been — our customer and our intention to simplify their experience,” says Madhava Reddy, founder and CEO of HTC Global Services. “We have always championed the power of our three brands, and now we want to communicate our total value in a more compelling way. We will continue to develop and leverage our broad expertise in the many areas our business operates, as well as the specializations we offer.”

HTC’s new vision is: “Reimagining a better shared world,” and its new mission is: “Bring human expertise to tech in order to deliver purposeful solutions that amplify value.”

“We are re-energizing our business,” says Nitesh Bansal, president of HTC Global Services. “By becoming one business and one brand, we are further strengthening the essential focus that we have always had on our customers and sharpening our offerings to better serve their needs of the future. It means that we can extend and deepen our relationships and our human connections. This is what makes us truly unique.”

IMSE Is Selected as a Dyslexia Designee Approved Training Provider by Arizona Schools

IMSE, the Southfield-based provider of Structured Literacy Professional Development and Classroom Programs, announced it was selected as a dyslexia designee approved training by the Arizona Department of Education.

IMSE Structured Literacy Professional Development trains educators to teach reading with programs based on the Science of Reading research that incorporates the best of Orton-Gillingham and all five pillars of literacy.

In 2019, Arizona required the identification of at least one K-3 grade teacher as the Dyslexia Training Designee (DTD) who would receive additional training in three areas: Reading Instruction, Intensifying Instruction, and Understanding and Recognizing Dyslexia. The law also states that each school must have at least one DTD on campus prior to July 1, 2022, but does recommend that as many teachers as possible receive this training.

IMSE is one of only three out of 19 approved vendors that were approved in all three areas.

The IMSE approach allows teachers to incorporate the five components essential to an effective reading program into their daily lessons: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. The approach is based on the Orton-Gillingham methodology and focuses on explicit, direct instruction that is sequential, systematic, and multi-sensory.

“It is our core belief that all children must have the ability to read to fully realize their potential,” says Jeanne Jeup, co-founder of IMSE. “We are proud to offer educators access to all of the tools, resources, and skills they need to integrate research-based, explicit, systematic, and multi-sensory instruction into their curriculum to help all students learn to read.”

For more information on dyslexia reading programs, visit here. For more information on IMSE, visit here.

RAVE Computer is Showcasing Real-time Collaborative Battle Simulation Over 5G

RAVE Computer, a developer of purpose-built computing solutions in Sterling Heights, is showcasing a real-time collaborative virtual battle simulation at I/ITSEC 2021 in Orlando, Fla. this week.

I/ITSEC 2021 is the world’s largest modeling, simulation, and training event.

The solution being showcased is the result of a collaboration between RAVE Computer, Kratos Defense and Security Solutions Inc., Varjo, and Real-Time Innovations (RTI). It features RAVE’s RenderBEAST compute, the Varjo XR-3 HMD, Kratos’ immersive battle simulation content, and 5G communication technology by RTI.

The demonstrations will feature three participants, operating in individual booths, over a 5G cellular network in a multi-participant battlefield simulation. Leveraging training and simulation content from Kratos, and RAVE’s innovative RenderBEAST compute –– the communications capabilities provided by RTI will allow all operators to participate in the simulated training together in one virtual environment –– setting an example of how collaborative multi-participant training can be delivered regardless of the soldiers’ geographically distinct locations.

“RAVE Computer’s collaboration with Kratos Training Solutions, Varjo, and Real-Time Innovations reinforces our commitment to continuing to evolve the delivery of defense training,” says Jim Powers, director of professional services at RAVE Computer. “At I/ITSEC, the participants will be located in the same building. However, this solution will allow soldiers to collaboratively participate in immersive training directly from wherever they are located around the world –– not only breaking down geographic borders –– but truly enabling training at the point of need.”

Troy Chamber to Host Made in Michigan Holiday Luncheon Dec. 9

The Troy Chamber is hosting its annual Holiday Luncheon from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on Dec. 9 at Somerset Inn.

Business professionals, including executives from Michigan brands Leon & Lulu, Premier Pet Supply, and Guernsey Farms Dairy, are expected to attend and participate in a panel discussion moderated by Fox 2 News’ Roop Raj.

“We are so happy to be bringing this event back for the holiday season,” says Tara Tomcsik-Husak, president and CEO of the Troy Chamber of Commerce. “These Michigan companies have overcome many different hurdles to achieve success in southeast Michigan and are an inspiration to all entrepreneurs. We are proud to bring these brands to the forefront at our holiday luncheon.”

The cost to attend this event is $50 for Troy Chamber members, $75 for non-members, and $350 for a table of eight for Troy Chamber members. Each attendee will leave with a gift bag.

To learn more about sponsorship opportunities and how to register, visit here, call 248-641-8151, or e-mail theteam@troychamber.com.

The event is supported by American Society of Employers (ASE), Chief Financial Credit Union, ConnectPay, and Comcast Business. The Troy Chamber has also teamed up with two of its nonprofit members — Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Troy and Alternatives for Girls — accepting in-kind donations to help serve those in need.

NSO Breaks Ground on Detroit Healthy Housing Center for Homeless

Neighborhood Service Organization (NSO), a leading community-based integrated health and human service agency, broke ground Tuesday for Detroit’s first Healthy Housing Center (DHHC) at 3426 Mack Ave.

The 22,000-square-foot facility is the second and final phase of NSO’s Healthy Housing Campus, a comprehensive site with a holistic service delivery model that is part of a $22 million vision offering an innovative approach to end chronic homelessness in the city of Detroit.

The DHHC will provide low-barrier emergency shelter to 56 adults, focusing on the medically at risk, and will offer health and social services for its residents and neighbors. It will offer services to help homeless individuals transition into permanent housing, a 17-bed medical respite for homeless individuals to receive continuing care post-hospitalization, a fully integrated health care clinic open to the public and other on-site wraparound services, including job readiness training. The health care clinic will be accessible to the community for primary care, behavioral health, dental services, and a pharmacy.

“The NSO has been a tremendous partner and its new facility will help more people get out of and stay out of homelessness,” says Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who was on hand for the groundbreaking. “The Healthy Housing Center will provide health services to the most vulnerable in our city and, with the Clay Apartments next door, offer a full range of services to support these residents’ transition out of homelessness and into a better, more stable life.”

The first of its kind in the state, the DHHC will deliver solutions not only for the homeless, but for the entire Detroit community. Instead of simply managing homelessness, NSO says it will set an example in eliminating homelessness through this new model. The model will foster a continuum of care for homeless individuals with complicated medical needs. By offering medical respite and shelter services on site, NSO is closing a gap that has long contributed to hospitalizations and emergency room visits for this population.

“Homeless individuals are five times more likely to be hospitalized than others and have much higher rates of readmissions and emergency department visits,” says Linda Little, CEO of NSO. “The Detroit Healthy Housing Center is an innovative solution that embodies our mission to promote equity for us all. This resource will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the individuals served, but it also will relieve stress on the system of care in Detroit. Our hope is to take these lessons learned to scale healthy housing to other communities that may benefit.”

The first phase of the DHHC — the Clay Apartments — opened in September 2020. A two-story, 42-unit affordable housing complex offering one-bedroom apartments for single adults, it has 30 percent targeted for individuals with high emergency room utilization. The apartments, which are 100 percent occupied, offer permanent supportive housing and additional wraparound services to address the economic, health, and social barriers to stability.

The City of Detroit’s Housing and Revitalization Department funded $4.1 million of the project’s cost through Community Development Block Grants CARES (CDBG-CV).

Though $10.3 million in funding has been secured for phase two of the Detroit Healthy Housing Center of the Healthy Housing Campus, nearly $1.3 million in unmet development costs remain. Those interested in contributing to the project are asked to visit nso-mi.org to learn more.