Business, economic leaders celebrate opening of LTU manufacturing incubator

Release Date: October 8, 2019
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LTU President Virinder Moudgil and Southfield Mayor Kenson Siver (in middle, with scissors) cut the ribbon on the Centrepolis Accelerator Oct. 4. .
LTU photo.

Welcome to the future of manufacturing.

On National Manufacturing Day, Friday, Oct. 4, Lawrence Technological University and its partners dedicated the Centrepolis Accelerator—a bright, modern space with the latest in high-tech prototyping and virtual reality equipment to help entrepreneurs, designers and dreamers create the next generation of hardware. Early Accelerator clients represent a wide variety of industries, from transportation to gaming, from exercise equipment to defense.

The mission of Centrepolis is to “accelerate the growth of small manufacturers and hardware entrepreneurs,” said Mark Brucki, LTU’s director of corporate and community partnerships.

Speaker after speaker Friday said Lawrence Tech was the perfect place to do just that.

What truly sets the Accelerator apart, speakers said, was its focus on manufacturing companies—startups and growing businesses that produce physical products. Michigan has long been a global hub in manufacturing, yet virtually all of the business incubators in the state focus on apps, software and services. The Centrepolis Accelerator, in contrast, has a full prototyping shop for physical products, with a full array of machine tools and 3D printers. All those resources were demonstrated to hundreds of guests at the grand opening and the public open house that followed. More than 500 people registered to attend.

The event also featured product demonstrations from early Accelerator clients, including Wareologie, manufacturers of magnetic buttons that allow people with dexterity limitations to continue to dress themselves; Gaddis Gaming, creator of electronic gaming tables for tabletop games; Maxfit, developers of a portable workout device; and Pingree Detroit, makers of fine leather goods.

Access to the Centrepolis Accelerator and all its equipment starts at just $125 a month with a 12-month commitment. For more information, visit http://www.centrepolisaccelerator.com/.

Partners in the Centrepolis Accelerator effort include the City of Southfield, the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the Michigan Energy Fund, and the New Economy Initiative.

Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, called LTU “a stellar leader in our community,” and lauded LTU President Virinder Moudgil for his vision and leadership.

As for manufacturing, she said, “the days of dark, dirty buildings, the days of not getting respect for working with your hands, those days are over, and we need to make sure we need to highlight all the amazing opportunities in manufacturing. There is so much technology tied to manufacturing now.”

Josh Hundt, executive vice president and chief business development officer at the Michigan Economic Development Corp., said the Accelerator represents LTU’s longtime motto of “Theory and Practice,” showing the future of manufacturing to the next generation of workers.

Oakland County Executive David Coulter noted that his father was an LTU civil engineering alumnus, calling the university “an amazing partner and asset” for the county. “I continue to be very impressed by the great work you’re doing here,” he said. “LTU students continue to be some of the most sought-after in the state, and for good reason. You have proven that you are an innovative and adaptive university that meets the changing economic needs of our state and our world.”

Southfield Mayor Kenson Siver called LTU “a gem. We’re very fortunate as a city to have the university here.” And, he said, working with LTU and its partners to nurture new businesses was a logical move for the city, because it will help Southfield retain more of its home-grown talent.

Southfield City Administrator Fred Zorn said the Accelerator was the kind of effort that will create new enterprises to stem the erosion of the middle class. He called LTU an “incredible university” that is adding new academic programs in areas of workforce need. 

And David Darbyshire, BSME'87, whose father and six siblings are also alumni, praised LTU’s family atmosphere, noting that university leadership was always available to anyone. “That’s our competitive advantage,” said Darbyshire, whose family business, DASI Solutions, was a pioneer in 3D printing. “I’ve been to every major university out there, and the one differentiator I’ve noticed about Lawrence Tech is its open door policy. You can walk into any office, open any door, and find someone who will welcome you with open arms.” He also noted that LTU founder Russell Lawrence asked the business community for their workforce needs when he established the university. He called the Accelerator an extension of that kind of community outreach.

About the Centrepolis Accelerator

The mission of the Centrepolis Accelerator is to accelerate the growth of Southeast Michigan’s advanced manufacturing, innovative hardware entrepreneurs, and small manufacturers by providing access to funding, experts, and key business and product development resources.

About Southfield Centrepolis SmartZone:

The Southfield Centrepolis SmartZone inspires business growth. It is a place where designers, manufacturers, engineers and tech experts can grow their business ideas and learn how to take them to market. Its mission is to bring together universities, industries, research organizations, businesses, government organizations and community institutions to stimulate the growth of technology-based businesses and jobs. More at www.southfieldcentrepolis.com.

About Lawrence Technological University

Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers more than 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 15 percent of universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists 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 include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

About the city of Southfield, Michigan, USA

The city of Southfield is one of the premier business and residential addresses in Michigan. Located in Oakland County, Southfield is home to more than 73,000 residents and more than 100 Fortune 500 companies. With a daytime population nearing 175,000, more than 27 million square feet of office space, and more than seven million square feet of retail and industrial space, Southfield is truly Michigan’s undisputed business center. Residents and businesses alike come to Southfield for its central location, excellent city services, and easy access to all of southeastern Michigan. For more information, call (248) 796-5000 or visit www.cityofsouthfield.com.

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