Roundup: Macomb Community College, Weyn, Wayne Med-Direct & More

Here’s a look at innovation news from around Michigan:

Macomb Community College announced it will use a $700,000 gift from a donor’s estate to fund programs meant to foster innovation and startups. The gift will support a $50,000 endowed scholarship for accounting students and a $100,000 endowed fund to be used to pay for the college’s business faculty to get professional development. It will also dedicate $550,000 for a new Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which will provide entrepreneurship education and training for both students and community members, mentorships for startups and existing small business, and access to capital. According to a press release, the donor was inspired by a student pitch competition held at the college last April.

—The Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan (WIN) released a report earlier this month on the economic and workforce-related effects of modern technology trends, based on survey results from over 230 of the state’s business leaders. According to the report, 75 percent of surveyed companies have implemented a new technology or business process within the past year. Almost half believe that technological advances will have no impact on employment levels in the next five years. However, the majority of respondents think that worker productivity will increase due to the fast pace of technological change.

What’s needed to prepare for future innovation, respondents said, is more computer training for students in middle school and high school; more coursework dedicated to critical thinking, problem-solving, and analysis; more and better professional development opportunities for current IT workers; more apprenticeships; and increased digital literacy for all workers. “Workers will not be replaced by technology, but technologies will require more interaction among workers to foster communications and group work skills,” WIN director Lisa Katz said in a press release.

—Weyn, the Detroit-based startup developing mobile games that aim to teach players about wealth-building, is seeking beta testers for its first prototype, called My Jewel Empire. Anyone can be a tester, but Weyn is also specifically looking for people who work in municipal retirement systems or for health insurers to test the game and offer feedback. If you’d like to volunteer your services, contact company founder Ida Byrd-Hill at ida@weyn.biz; put “beta test” in the email’s subject line.

—University of Michigan professor James Sayer has been honored with the White House’s Champions of Change award, given this year to 11 people nationally for leadership in advancing connected and automated transportation. Sayer—a research scientist at the U-M Transportation Research Institute and deployment director for the U-M Mobility Transformation Center—has overseen the creation and operation of Mcity, the world’s first controlled environment specifically designed to test connected and automated vehicle technologies before they are tried out in real-world traffic.

—Last week, Wayne State University announced a new program to develop the pipeline of high-quality students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds who are also interested in studying medicine and urban health disparities. Wayne Med-Direct will grant 10 high school students advanced admission to its medical school, along with four years of paid undergraduate tuition, four years of paid undergraduate room and board costs in university housing, and four years of paid medical school tuition. WSU is accepting applications for this program until Jan. 15, 2016; click here for details.

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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