Centrepolis Accelerator wows top U.S. Commerce Department official
SOUTHFIELD—A top U.S. Department of Commerce official got a first-hand look at one of the nation’s most advanced business incubators for manufacturers Thursday on the Southfield campus of Lawrence Technological University.
Alejandra Y. Castillo, Commerce undersecretary for economic development and administrator of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), pronounced herself impressed with LTU’s Centrepolis Accelerator and its clients’ technologies.
The visit was prompted by EDA’s earlier announcement the same day of a $1.3 million grant from its “Build2Scale” program that will provide funding to help scale Centrepolis’ Industry 4.0 Accelerator activities in partnership with Automation Alley and Lean Rocket Lab.
Opened in 2019, the Centrepolis Accelerator provides a wide variety of programs and services to small businesses and startups interested in bringing new manufactured products to market. Included are funding, a complete prototyping lab, 30 experts-in-residence with an average of 25 years in manufacturing and product development, and expert manufacturability and market analysis.
Castillo got demonstrations from three Centrepolis Industry 4.0 Accelerator clients:
- Detect-It, a software company located in Oak Park offering advanced machine vision and sound analysis for manufacturers that can be used for quality control, defect detection, and more;
- Mirari, located in Southfield, developers of 3D visualization software of everything from cities to buildings to manufacturing plants that can be used for land use planning, construction, asset analysis, manufacturing plant design, and more; The technology was demonstrated by Daniel Kagan of West Bloomfield, an LTU double major in civil engineering and architecture, an example of the kinds of real-world experience the Accelerator makes possible for LTU students.
- Deepview, located in Macomb Township, developers of an advanced parts inspection camera and software system whose entire product is manufactured in the United States—even its circuit board is made in Michigan.
Castillo also toured the Accelerator’s prototyping lab, complete with eight 3D printers and a fully equipped machine shop.
Castillo was accompanied on the visit by officials of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., Automation Alley, Lean Rocket Lab, and the city of Southfield, LTU’s partner in the Centrepolis Accelerator.
Castillo previously served as national director of the Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency and held senior policy positions at the White House and the International Trade Administration, Castillo is also a first-generation American of Dominican descent. As head of EDA, she is responsible for fulfilling the agency’s mission of leading the federal economic development agenda, including overseeing the implementation of $3 billion in economic development funding appropriated as part of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
The Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University is funded by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE); the New Economy Initiative (NEI); the Wells Fargo NREL Innovation Incubator (IN2); the Department of Energy Office of Technology Transitions’ EPIC Prize program; the City of Southfield; Lawrence Technological University; the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC); and the William Davidson Foundation. It supports established and startup manufacturing companies in bringing new technologies to market through funding, expert advice, and manufacturability and market analysis, with a particular emphasis on historically underrepresented populations and the cleantech, climatech and circular economy industries.
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, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 11 percent of universities for alumni salaries. Forbes and The Wall Street Journal rank LTU among the nation's top 10 percent. U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best in the Midwest. 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 100 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.
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