Roundup: Upwardly Global, BoostUp, Jacapps, Quicken Loans, Sakti3
Here’s a look at news from around Michigan’s innovation ecosystem:
—On June 20, we published an article in which Steve Tobocman, director of Global Detroit, predicted that Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan would soon announce new “immigration reform strategies.” On June 23, the city did indeed announce that the San Francisco-based nonprofit Upwardly Global has opened a new office in Detroit to help grow economic activity through attracting skilled immigrants—particularly engineers—to its workforce.
Detroit City Council members Andre Spivey and Raquel Castaneda-Lopez will oversee the office, which is located at 3408 Woodward Ave., in space donated by Michigan State University. It’s the fourth office opened by Upwardly Global; other locations are in the Bay Area, New York City, and Chicago. Upwardly Global will offer resume revision and interview preparation services, one-on-one advising, and specialized resources for professionals in high-demand tech and engineering fields. Michigan will also be the first state to sponsor Upwardly Global’s Engineers in Residence professional internship program.
The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has also partnered with Upwardly Global to create online guides that explain the professional licensing requirements for individuals who were educated or have work experience in foreign countries. (Guides for 15 high-demand professions can be found here.) The department has created a dedicated telephone service at (517) 373-0104 where skilled immigrants can connect to state professional licensing specialists for answers to licensing-related questions.
—BoostUp, a Detroit-based startup that allows users to set up free online savings accounts where they can put money toward big purchases—a car, a honeymoon, etc.—and invite friends and family to help contribute, announced a new partnership with Quicken Loans late last month. When its customers save up for a down payment on a new home financed by Quicken Loans, BoostUp will match the savings dollar-for-dollar up to $750 to help pay the closing costs.
“The partnership with Quicken Loans was always on the road map [since the company was persuaded to move to Detroit from Illinois last year by Quicken Loans chairman Dan Gilbert], it just took a minute to get it done,” BoostUp founder John Morgan says. “We’re glad to get out there and push this first-of-its-kind consumer benefit.”
To begin saving for their big-ticket items, BoostUp users select which savings category they’re interested in, including automotive, wedding, home, and trip; the dollar amount; and target date for their goal. They can schedule recurring or one-time deposits directly from their checking or savings account to their BoostUp account.
—Speaking of Quicken Loans, it has been named the nation’s top place to work in IT by Computerworld magazine. This marks the second year in a row the Detroit-based retail mortgage lender has claimed the top spot, and the fifth time in the last 10 years. Dow Chemical was the only other Michigan company to make the list, placing 32nd on the list of large companies. The full list is available here.
—Jacapps, the Bingham Farms-based mobile app provider, announced it has been selected by the Public Radio Exchange (PRX) to develop mobile apps for public radio stations linked to PRX’s core distribution service. Jacapps currently provides mobile apps for nearly 40 public radio stations nationwide. For its new public radio clients, Jacapps will offer additional optional features like the ability to share audio, video, and photos back to the station, as well as the integration of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook feeds.
—The University of Michigan Sustainable Mobility and Accessibility Research and Transformation (SMART) initiative is seeking applications for the 2014 MobiPrize, which honors disruptive innovations in transportation. NextEnergy will sponsor a $5,000 MobiPrize for Michigan entrepreneurs who, through their “innovative new mobility technology, service, product, or infrastructure venture” are contributing to the state’s economy. Winners will be recognized at the World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems in September. The deadline for MobiPrize entries is July 7; for a complete list of guidelines and more information, click here.
—Sakti3, the Ann Arbor-based solid-state battery technology startup, announced last week that is has appointed Edward Frank to its board of directors. Frank, a named inventor on more than 50 patents, is the co-founder and CEO of Cloud Parity, an early-stage social networking startup in San Francisco. Before founding Cloud Parity, he served as vice president of Macintosh hardware systems engineering at Apple. He was also a founding CEO of Epigram and was a distinguished engineer at Sun Microsystems.
“[Frank’s] track record in transforming novel technology into successful products will help us as we productize solid state batteries for consumer electronics,” Sakti3 co-founder and CEO Ann Marie Sastry said.