Xconomy Opens in Detroit to Tell a Vital Story of Innovation and Economic Transformation

Even as the Detroit Red Wings seek to battle back in their NHL playoff series against the Phoenix Coyotes, entrepreneurs and innovators in Michigan are working overtime to help the state meet an economic challenge far more imposing than the Coyotes are on ice. That’s how we see it here at Xconomy, and that’s why it is with special pleasure and excitement that we announce today that Xconomy is bringing its hyperlocal coverage of key innovation clusters to Michigan with the launch of Xconomy Detroit. The Motor City (with our coverage including much of the rest of Michigan and northern Ohio) is now the fourth region in Xconomy’s network, joining Boston, Seattle, and San Diego.

Regular readers of Xconomy will recognize right away that Detroit doesn’t outwardly have the hallmarks of the other innovation clusters we cover, all of which are leaders in key areas of information technology and life sciences, and boast vibrant venture capital and entrepreneurial cultures.

But the innovation story playing out in Michigan is just as important, and in fact, the stakes may be far higher. To compete globally and thrive far into the future, the American auto industry will need to continue to reinvent itself. At the same time, entrepreneurs and government leaders recognize that the region needs a much broader economic base. That has led to a profusion of investments in areas outside (or peripherally related to) the automotive industry, such as biotechnology, biofuels, batteries, medical devices, software, and homeland security.

In each of these areas, scores of creative businesspeople and entrepreneurs are waiting to tell their stories and share their insights. And because we believe in the power of innovation and entrepreneurship to transform regional economies, we want to be on the ground in Detroit to hear what they have to say and watch the progress of their incredibly important efforts.

We have a personal stake as well. Xconomy is in many ways a Michigan and Big Ten publication. Executive editor Rebecca Zacks and chief correspondent Wade Roush are both Michigan natives, as is our business development manager in San Diego, Michele Gerus, who graduated from Wayne State University. National biotech editor Luke Timmerman grew up near Platteville in southwestern Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin (he’s pressing hard for a Wisconsin bureau); and Seattle editor Greg Huang was largely raised in Urbana, IL, and did his undergraduate work at the University of Illinois.

With three highly talented Michiganders on our team, all of whom have left the state, we recognize that we also embody part of the problem: the best and the brightest must be retained in greater numbers if Michigan is going to succeed in transforming its economy. But we think that by better telling the stories of entrepreneurs and innovators—be they at startups or automakers and other public companies, and be they stories of success or failure—we can help cultivate a culture of innovation that will help keep talent in the state. All this will be enhanced by our events, which are aimed at bringing people together to share and discuss what they have learned.

Leading our on-the-ground coverage in Michigan is Xconomy Detroit correspondent Howard Lovy, an experienced (and prize-winning) writer about science, technology, and innovation who in 2001 was part of the launch team at Small Times, a nanotechnology publication based in Ann Arbor, MI. Howard has also written for Wired News, Salon.com, The Wall Street Journal, The Detroit News, The Scientist, Michigan Messenger, and The Ann Arbor Chronicle, among other publications. We’re extremely happy to have him working with us, and I think you’ll see from his posts that he lives and breathes the ethos of Michigan.

But Howard will not be alone. He will be working closely with the whole editorial team, with Midwest expats Wade and Luke, in particular, focusing on Detroit in their roles as chief correspondent and national biotech editor, respectively.

In each of our cities, Xconomy’s outstanding editorial team is supported by a group of advisors we call Xconomists, whose ranks include some of the world’s leading innovators. We are extremely pleased to launch Xconomy Detroit with a great and fast-growing body of Detroit Xconomists (listed here) who include David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research; angel investor Terry Cross, a founding member of the Michigan Venture Capital Association; University of Michigan dean of engineering David Munson Jr.; Roger Newton, founder of Esperion and former SVP for Pfizer Global R&D; Gilbert Omenn, director of the University of Michigan’s Center for Computational Medicine and Biology and former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and entrepreneur Ann Marie Sastry, CEO of battery maker Sakti3.

We are also incredibly fortunate to have the support of some forward-looking underwriters and partners in Michigan. First and foremost is the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, whose vision and support really made Xconomy Detroit possible. And right alongside the Kauffman Foundation are a group of others who believe in what we are doing and see how important better coverage of the Detroit innovation scene is: the law firm Dykema, the Science & Technology Directorate of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, DTE Energy Ventures, Flagship Ventures, RPM Ventures, MichBio, TechTown, and the Bank of Ann Arbor. Thank you to one and all.

We are extremely excited to come to Detroit, and we’re proud to join the local innovation community, which has embraced us incredibly warmly over the last several months, as we worked to get Xconomy Detroit off the ground. We really hope you like what Xconomy is doing, and look forward to hearing how you think we can do it even better at editors@xconomy.com.

Bob is Xconomy's founder and editor in chief. You can e-mail him at bbuderi@xconomy.com, call him at 617.500.5926. Follow @bbuderi

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