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LTU's Centrepolis Accelerator recognized with $1M grant from Ralph Wilson Jr. Foundation to help make more products in southeast Michigan

Release Date: December 7, 2021

SOUTHFIELD—The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation has made a grant of $1 million to Lawrence Technological University’s Centrepolis Accelerator to further its mission of assisting “hardware” physical product startups and established small high-tech manufacturing firms in southeast Michigan.

Specifically, the grant will provide capital for the C Evergreen Investment Fund, which provides services for and investments in advanced manufacturing, manufacturing technology, Industry 4.0 technologies, cleantech, recycling, and COVID response companies, as well as technological advancement in organizations that benefit an aging population and those with disabilities.

The C³ Evergreen Investment Fund takes the form of non-equity, zero-interest investments to southeast Michigan companies. The unique investment model also can include a success fee whereby when the recipient companies get their product to market and develop revenues, a small portion is provided back to Centrepolis, allowing Centrepolis to continue to supply investment to new clients. In essence, paying that success forward. The fund was launched through a $1.55 million grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. The Accelerator has also received funding from the New Economy Initiative, the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator, the William Davidson Foundation, and other state and federal agencies.

“We are both excited and humbled to receive this level of support from the Ralph Wilson Foundation,” said Dan Radomski, executive director of the Centrepolis Accelerator. “The demand for our services has grown significantly. This funding will help support our ability to scale and make direct investments in more Southeast Michigan hardware, physical product clients in commercializing and making their products right here in Michigan. The economic impact from this effort cannot be overlooked, as we help our hardware clients grow we are also sending significant business to the local supply chain that is directly helping with their design, engineering, prototyping, testing and manufacturing.”

“The Foundation is thrilled to support Lawrence Tech and the Centrepolis Accelerator as they provide early-stage, flexible capital to underserved entrepreneurs and small businesses across the region,” said Jim Boyle, Vice President of Programs and Communications at the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “These businesses will design and build products in Southeast Michigan now and into the future, which is the goal of this innovative revolving fund, and critical to the region’s equitable economic growth.”

The Centrepolis Accelerator, launched in 2019 by LTU and the City of Southfield, provides funding, mentoring, expertise and services to manufacturing startups and established small manufacturing enterprises. It’s one of only a handful of accelerators across the country that works with manufacturers, rather than software developers or service providers. In the past 24 months, it has helped commercialize 17 new products, has 60 more in development scheduled to reach the market in the next 24 months, and the Accelerator currently has more than 300 clients. The Accelerator has 6,000 square feet of coworking space and a high-tech product prototyping lab on LTU’s campus with 3D printers, metalworking, and virtual and augmented reality equipment.

The Accelerator has a focus on advanced manufacturing technologies; cleantech products (in general, those that reduce emissions and fuel consumption, and which avoid or help clean up pollution); circular economy products, which boost the use of recycled and upcycled materials; and companies owned by historically underrepresented populations.

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 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.


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