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MI Apps Make Splash in Mobileys, & Other Recent Tech News

Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor — 

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

—Mobile Future recently announced the 12 finalists in its national Mobileys competition honoring innovative mobile apps, products, and services. This year, four Michigan-based companies were among the finalists: Companion, an app developed by University of Michigan students that allows users to keep an eye on family and friends if they head out alone late at night; Pro:Up, an app developed by school counselors in Detroit that matches high school students to educational and career development opportunities; SPLT, a mobile carpool and ride-sharing service that recently relocated from New York City to Detroit after a stint in the Techstars Mobility accelerator; and StartDOT, an app that teaches kids how to write letters and numbers. The finalists are competing for cash prizes, and the winners will be chosen later this week. This is the first time any Michigan company has made it into the finals—let alone four at once, Mobile Future said in an e-mail.

LLamasoft, the Ann Arbor-based supply chain software company, announced earlier this month that it has acquired Barloworld‘s supply chain software division. The acquisition does not include Barloworld’s operations in South Africa or the United Arab Emirates, where the two companies will now work in partnership. Barloworld is known for its CAST and OPTIMIZA products, which aim to help users meet cost, revenue, and capital efficiency goals and increase customer loyalty.

—On Nov. 5, 22 young women converged on Wayne State University’s campus to take part in Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!), a 30-week program intended to take participants from novice entrepreneur to startup CEO. The middle- and high-school students will learn how to develop business ideas, write business plans, pitch investors, and run their own fully formed companies. Unlike other YEA! programs across the country, this one focuses solely on female students and is sponsored in part by the Greater Detroit chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners.

—The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) has designated a new satellite SmartZone, in partnership with the Grand Rapids SmartZone, for the Holland area of West Michigan. SmartZones are geographic locations where technology-based firms, entrepreneurs, and researchers are encouraged by the MEDC to locate so they can take advantage of resources to help them grow.  The designation allows the community to use tax increment financing to collect 50 percent of any increase in property tax value due and invest it back into tech-based businesses; a satellite SmartZone is created with an existing SmartZone to spur regional collaboration. Michigan State University, which maintains the 138,000-square-foot MSU Bioeconomy Institute in Holland, will serve as the university research partner for the new SmartZone.

Rubicon Genomics, the U-M life sciences spinout based in Ann Arbor, has inked an agreement with Eurofins Scientific to distribute its DNA library preparation products in the United States. Eurofins is a global company specializing in bio-analysis and genomics testing, and it has a large U.S. customer base, the company said in a press release. “Eurofins selectively distributes products to its customers for use in their own laboratories, and we view their decision to distribute our kits as another confirmation of the value of our enabling technologies,” said Jim Koziarz, CEO of Rubicon Genomics.

—Cable provider Comcast is hiring 400 people in Michigan, and available jobs include IT and other technical positions. The hiring push is part of a $300 million investment Comcast is planning to beef up some of its offerings, including a new mobile app that lets customers view the status of their repair technician. The company currently has 4,300 employees in the state.