Ford’s Mary Culler to Discuss Michigan Central Station Redevelopment and Build a New Innovation Community in Detroit at 2020 Conference

Ford Motor Company is uniquely positioned to help define Detroit’s next decade as it leads the Michigan Central Station redevelopment and creation of a new innovative ecosystem in Corktown.

Detroit Development Director Mary Culler will discuss these opportunities and Ford’s commitment to Detroit in a keynote address at the 2020 Detroit Policy Conference, January 29 at MotorCity Casino Hotel.

Corktown is currently home to more than 250 employees from Ford’s autonomous vehicle business unit as it works towards its goal to deploy a self-driving car by 2021. This presence will grow to more than 5,000 Ford employees and partners when Detroit’s iconic train station opens to the public again, along with several nearby properties. The area will become a vibrant, innovative community where people come to create, test, and experience new transportation solutions that advance human progress.

There are several new confirmed speakers and groundbreaking sessions at the 2020 Conference. Check out the growing lineup and reserve your spot today.

Just Announced: Bryan Salesky Joins MICHauto Summit Speaker Lineup

Learn about the future of the Detroit region’s connected and automated vehicle landscape from one of the industry experts leading the charge.

In a one-on-one conversation moderated by “Autoline” host John McElroy at the 2020 MICHauto Summit on Tuesday, Feb. 25, Argo AI CEO Bryan Salesky will explain the work his team is doing to bring that future to fruition and how robotics, self-driving sensor technologies, and machine learning are revolutionizing the way the region gets around.

Reserve your spot for this conversation on transformative mobility technologies today.

Mobility Moments Podcast: 2019 Recap with Glenn Stevens Jr., MICHauto


December 5, 2019

By Claire Charlton

It’s the end of 2019 and it’s been a busy year for mobility initiatives in Detroit and across Michigan. Today we’re checking in with Glenn Stevens, executive director at MICHauto, to recap the year and learn more about what’s ahead in 2020.

Welcome to Drive’s Mobility Moments Podcast where we talk with the people building the mobility ecosystem in the Detroit region. I’m your host, Claire Charlton.

Glenn, hello and welcome to Drive’s Mobility Moments podcast. How are you doing today?

Good. And how are you today, Claire?

I’m wonderful. Thank you so much for joining me.

I’m happy to be here.

So Glenn, as executive director of MICHauto and also the vice president of automotive and mobility with the Detroit Regional Chamber, you always know what’s happening in the world of mobility here in the Detroit region. So I’m excited to check in with you for an update. It’s been a busy year for mobility. 2019 has been a very busy year and I’m hoping that you can share with me some of the key initiatives of this past year. So what’s top of mind for mobility development in the Detroit region right now?

Well, you are correct that it has been a busy year. Actually the last few years have been quite busy together with our partners around the state and including a new governor. We were very fortunate to have Governor Snyder be a leader in this space and Governor Whitmer and her team have picked up right where a Governor Snyder left off. And so we’re working very closely with the new administration. But what’s top of mind right now is that mobility is a very fast changing environment and a couple things have come to the forefront. And right now the electrification of the industry is a very, very big focus. And then also the startup community, we have continued to double and triple down on building the startup community and the ecosystem here in Michigan. And a lot of progress has been made.

So I visited the PlanetM Landing Zone site recently and saw that there are just dozens of Landing Zone members. And I think that speaks to sort of the startup community that you were talking about. Can we talk a little bit about the growth there?

Certainly we can. If you go back just to short two years ago the ecosystem for startups was really limited in the mobility space to the Techstars initiative and thank goodness for Techstars coming to Detroit and setting up Techstars Mobility. But we felt together with our partners at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and PlanetM that it was important for us as regional, city, state partners, to continue to invest and build in this. So we’re now two years into this and at this point in time we have 55 members of that startup landing zone, 39 startups and 16 industry partners. They’re represented by eight different states, 13 countries and there is a lot going on in that space right now.

Give us a brief rundown of some of the different types of mobility businesses that are a part of that 55 cohort at the Landing Zone.

Certainly. Well, you’re going to see everything from app based startups, which are working on parking solutions and things like that all the way up to drone technology and kind of everything in between. And when I say everything in between, mobility is a very broad word. So you’re looking at technology, which is in the connected space, technology and the automated space, technology in the shared space and then technology in the electrification space too.

So we’re seeing a lot of different technologies and a lot of different solutions and ideas come about whether it be intelligent transportation systems, for example, with a company like Derq, which has been partnering with MDOT to an acquisition that Bosch made of a company called SPLT for ride sharing. There’s all different types and shapes and sizes and nationalities of companies there.

And you said that electrification is big in mobility right now. Let’s talk about some of the initiatives that have happened in Detroit with regard to developing an infrastructure for electric vehicle use.

Certainly. Well, obviously the market and the consumers are driving this and this is a global perspective we have to look at. So certain parts of the world that mandated more electrification on their vehicles and on the roads, for example, China and parts of the European Union. But what we’re seeing here is the companies that are here in Detroit, and there are now 21 different OEMs with either headquarters or R & D or technical centers here, really focusing on the electrification development. So when you look at a company like General Motors, which is investing in the manufacturing of today, but also being very keen to the market that’s out there and the trends that are going, we see that those companies are developing that type of technology.

But the infrastructure has to come with it, to your point, and for example, I’ll give you three examples. Fortunately we have two very progressive, power utility companies, both DTE and Consumers are really focused on this, are investing in the infrastructure itself in entire really movements and entire initiatives. And then we also have, on the legislative side, Senator Mallory McMorrow and some of her bipartisan cohorts in the legislature have introduced legislation to increase the number of charging stations across the state of Michigan, in particular in state parks. So that’s legislation we’re also working on. So the vehicles are coming, the consumer demand is gradually increasing, but the infrastructure has to go hand in hand with it.

So let’s talk a little bit about the startup community that you mentioned. Startups need capital and they need supporters. And I know that there are PlanetM mobility grant monies that are being granted to help build that ecosystem. How important or what effect does the availability of these grants have on the ecosystem in general?

Well, sure. So the consumers of innovation in the case of the auto and mobility space, the global auto automotive manufacturers are the tier ones, they’re the companies that are looking for that and they’re literally scouting all over the world. And technology is going to emanate from a lot of different places. But when it comes to startups, there has to be a culture and an ecosystem that combines a lot of different things. For example, research institutions are a big part of it. So we have three R1 universities here, Wayne State, Michigan and Michigan State. That’s an important part of it, but the venture capital has to come too. So tracking very closely.

In fact, I was looking at it the other day, the Michigan Venture Capital Association tracks the investment in startups, in particular mobility startups. We’ve had gradual growth in that. So growth comes from innovation and innovation is fed by the capital and that capital is really coming from three areas: The private corporations with venture arms, private investment firms, pure venture capital, and also fortunately, state and local government. And particularly I give the MEDC a lot of credit for the investment they’ve made in some of these mobility pilots around the state because they’re not only solving problems in communities, but they’re also allowing companies to get a jumpstart with their technology.

Let’s talk about what’s ahead. What predictions do you have for 2020 with regard to what we’ll see in the mobility ecosystem here in the Detroit region and in Michigan?

Well, as you know, Claire, we have an unprecedented community here with regards to OEM suppliers, technology firms, universities. It is a very unique global cluster. But what got you here doesn’t necessarily get you there unless you continue to evolve. So there is a large, large focus by MICHauto, the Detroit Regional Chamber and our partners to make sure that we’re continuously evolving. And so what we see coming up is a continuous involvement in Industry 4.0 to make sure that the factories that we have today are as competitive globally as can be. And that’s a really big, big focus is to be competitive globally on a manufacturing basis.

But now what we’re looking at as transportation evolves is the current vehicles, for example, are becoming more and more safety automated with safety features, they’re becoming more and more connected and now they’re becoming more and more electrified. So we’re going to see those trends continue. And, and really what we’re going to see, we hope is the continuing buildup of this startup community in this innovation space around the state. And there are a lot of accelerators around the state, whether it be SEAMLESS and Start Garden in Grand Rapids or Ferris Wheel in Flint or Lean Rocket in Jackson. We have to tie all these altogether and make sure that we continue to at least invest in startup innovation.

So I really think we’re going to see more of that. And that’s a big, big focus. So it’s really making sure that the industry of today keeps building vehicles and we continue to evolve with this connected and mobility world that’s evolving. And it’s a challenge and an opportunity because Michigan has to do both and Detroit has to do both.

And so what can you share with us about how the North American International Auto Show 2020 is shaping up? Now I hear that there is a Michigan Mobility Challenge that will spark some immersive activations for the show next summer. What do you know about it?

Sure. Well, we work very closely with the Detroit Auto Dealers and the North American International Auto Show. I mean they are not only a cultural institution, this show, but they are strategic partners to the industry. So Rod Alberts and his team are at the top of our partner list. So the move to June is really an exciting move because it’s not only showcasing a city in a month where it’s June, it’s our best weather month. But it’s also an ability to evolve. because auto shows and shows in general are really more experiential than ever before. So we think that from a big picture standpoint, this is an opportunity to showcase the transportation of today, showcase the mobility solutions of the future, but also roll in a little Detroit music, a little Detroit food and little Detroit culture to have a really cool event.

As part of that, the governor has set forth an $8 million Mobility Challenge and there will be five different displays of technology from a variety of partners from around the world, which we’ll be showing off autonomous and connected technology in the city. It’s really a pretty exciting project and I frankly am really impressed with how far it’s developed and where it’s at right now.

Awesome. I look forward to that. What else do you want people to know about mobility in the Detroit region now and in the future?

Well, I think that if you go back not too long ago, and we know of us because we actually did a lot of focus group work ourselves and we really looked around the world and said, “What are other regions, other states doing to evolve in this mobility space?” I remember there being a headline in the wall street journal in July of 2014 it said, “The future of the cars is in Silicon Valley.” And a lot of us looked at that and said, “Well, not if we have something to say about it.” And fortunately I think a lot of us have been working very closely to make sure that Michigan is positioned to be not only viewed as incredible metal benders, but incredible innovators of technology and talent. So I think it’s important for us to keep the pedal down on that. We can’t rest because all different parts of the world want a piece of this mobility space.

And I’ll put it in context, there’s two reasons for it. One is we need to solve problems. So we need to have a world that is safer, less congested, and has less pollution, and that’s really what’s driving these mobility solutions. But at the same time, there’s an economic opportunity. If you look at the global auto industry today, it’s about a $3 trillion industry. But if you look at personal mobility in a shared use economy that rolls all these new technologies together, you’re talking about a multi trillion dollar industry. Michigan needs a piece of that. Michigan needs to be a leader in that, both for solving problems and taking advantage of the economic opportunity. And that’s what we’re really working on. And that’s important for us to keep working on together.

Glenn, thank you so much for spending time talking with me about mobility on Mobility Moments Podcast today. I really appreciate talking with you.

Claire. Thanks for the opportunity, I really enjoyed it.

Thank you.


Special thanks to Glenn Stevens from MICHauto for being my guest, and thank you for listening to Drive’s Mobility Moments Podcast. Learn how and why the Detroit region leads in next generation mobility at Driven, Listen to our podcasts, catch up with our mobility news and features and subscribe to our newsletter.

For Driven, I’m Claire Charlton. Talk to you again soon.

View the original article here. 

Chamber’s Devon O’Reilly Visits Boston to Explore Leading Innovation Accelerators

MICHauto’s Devon O’Reilly, director of entrepreneurship and PlanetM Landing Zone, recently made a trip to Boston to visit two renowned innovation hubs. Greentown Labs and the Cambridge Innovation Center are both models for successful coworking and startup communities.

Greentown Labs is the largest cleantech startup incubator in the U.S. providing coworking, wet lab, machine shop, and warehouse spaces for more than 100 members. Similarly, the Cambridge Innovation Center is a globally recognized innovation community having served more than 5,000 companies in a plethora of industries as of 2018.

This visit offered important learnings for Detroit’s startup community and accelerators like PlanetM Landing Zone.


A key factor to the success of both communities is the density of startups, partners, and resources they provide. The Cambridge Innovation Center even refers to itself not as an accelerator, but a concentrator. This density offers immense opportunity for collaboration and the exchange of ideas among members and the surrounding business community.

Campus-Style Set Up

These innovation hubs go beyond coworking office space to utilize a full campus of multiple buildings and locations within a one-square-mile, walkable footprint. This variety of spaces and facilities allows for dedicated use of resources and interaction between organizations and industries that normally wouldn’t have been in contact.

Sense of Community

What sets organizations like Greentown Labs and the Cambridge Innovation Center apart is the community they create. The density and campus-style set up mentioned before contributed to a more plugged in, connected network of entrepreneurs, service providers, and ideas that benefit all involved. Creating these ecosystems serves not only to support the success of existing members, but also to make entire regions attractive to new investment and business opportunities.

MICHauto will continue to conduct research like this to gather best-practices and benchmark strategies that can support the continued growth and success of the entrepreneurial economy here in Detroit.

Growing automobility ecosystem highlighted in State of the Region

Michigan is the most progressive state for R&D, testing, and deployment of next-generation mobility technology. That is the clear takeaway from the Detroit Regional Chamber’s sixth annual State of the Region report’s section on Michigan’s growing automobility ecosystem.

The State of the Region report benchmarks the economic health of the region again national peer metro regions. Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah presented the report, highlighting the elements of Michigan’s automobility ecosystem that position the state as the global leader in mobility.

View the Next-Generation Mobility spotlight on pg. 20 of the full report below.

Automotive Advantage

Michigan is the automotive center with 21 Original Equipment Manufacturers headquarters or technology centers, 1.8 million vehicles assembled, and accounts for $225 billion to the state economy and reported by MICHauto earlier this year.

Testing and Validation

Home to two world-class testing and validation centers – American Center for Mobility, a $135 million investment, and MCity, and investment of $26.5 million for research, development, and deployment projects.

Deployment and Pilot Projects

An array of the project have been awarded and are taking place across the state to test next-generation technology and infrastructure, Michigan being No. 1 for U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT)-funded operational connected vehicle deployments is a testament to that.

  • A $7.5 million grant from the U.S. DOT was awarded to the State of Michigan, the City of Detroit, University of Michigan and the American Center for Mobility for R&D and testing of self-driving technologies.
  • There are more than 300 Roadside Units (RSUs) installed on roadways in Macom County, with plans for 740 by 2021.
  • The Detroit – Windsor international border was the first to have an international border crossing truck platooning test by the U.S. Army/TARDEC and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Entrepreneurship is exploding with 35 investment organizations active in the mobility space and an additional 72 organizations providing entrepreneurial support. The PlanetM Landing Zone is a hotbed for these mobility entrepreneurs with 39 startups and 16 corporate partners from the automotive industry collaborating.

Derq, a PlanetM Landing Zone member and Dubai-based AI and V2X technology company,  partnered with MDOT to successfully pilot sensor technology at a major Detroit intersection that includes the tunnel to Canada.

Talent Advantage

The talent graduating from Michigan universities to support this industry is unmatched. Michigan has 115,000 engineers across the state and is the No. 1 state in the nation for mechanical engineers (44,000), industrial engineers (31,000), and commercial and industrial designers (5,000).

Education Pipeline

Michigan is preparing the talent needed for the future workforce this technology requires. ??????

  • The state is No. 1 in the nation for high school and early elementary FIRST robotics teams.
  • More than 8,000 engineering degrees are conferred annually at Michigan universities and colleges.
  • There are 16 nationally ranked undergraduate engineering programs and nationally ranked engineering graduate programs at Michigan universities and colleges.
  • The Center for Advanced Mobility will award the first-of-its-kind Master of Mobility at Wayne State University’s College of Engineering in conjunction with the Michigan Mobility Institute.
  • Macomb Community College and Washtenaw Community College both offer mobility career programs.


Michigan Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) legislation leads the nation, allowing driverless cars and vehicle platoon testing on public roads. Additionally, Michigan State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-MI 13) introduced a package of bills with bipartisan sponsorship that would support the growth of electric vehicles in Michigan, and enable a statewide charging network.

This article was originally published on Driven.