The Ann Arbor region continues to lead by example in prioritizing environmentally sustainable practices and supporting energy-efficient companies.
The growth of clean and renewable energy continues to propel the city forward and encourage an eco-friendly culture for residents and businesses. Innovative companies like May Mobility and SPIN (acquired by Ford) are spearheading green transportation, transforming the way people travel. May Mobility’s autonomous driving vehicles reenvision sustainable roads through hybrid electric shuttles available to the public through A2GO. Similarly, SPIN’s popular electric scooters are powered entirely by renewable electricity and have become a staple among the region’s local and campus communities.
In addition to the mobility sector, clean and renewable energy innovation is prevalent among the region’s solar and wind energy companies. The locally owned company, Solar Tonic developed and installed the world’s first, vertically mounted, high-efficiency, wrap-around photovoltaic solar lighting system for streets, parks, parking lots, and roadways. The company Sky Specs utilizes software programming to help wind farm owners maximize energy output and reduce costs.
The prioritization of renewable energy and green initiatives can also be observed throughout the region. The city of Ann Arbor set the ambitious goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 as part of the A2ZERO Carbon Neutrality Plan. This comprehensive plan includes six key strategies to improve the city.
- Power our electrical grid with 100 percent renewable energy.
- Switch our appliances and vehicles from gasoline, diesel, propane, coal, and natural gas to electric.
- Significantly improve the energy efficiency in our homes, businesses, schools, places of worship, recreational sites, and government facilities.
- Reduce the miles we travel in our vehicles by at least 50 percent.
- Change the way we use, reuse, and dispose of materials.
- Enhance the resilience of our people and our place.
These strategies have come to life through a variety of initiatives like electric school busses, a zero-emissions fire station, and reusable take-out containers as part of Ann Arbor Reduce, Reuse, Return (A2R3). Solar panel installation also remains a primary component of A2ZERO carbon neutrality work. In comparison to countries leading the world in solar energy use, Ann Arbor ranks competitively among top countries like Japan and Germany. The city facilitates a group-buy program called Ann Arbor Solarize that incentivizes individuals who wish to install panels through the program. Other initiatives like the cities e-bike discount program and the 10K Trees Initiative continue to promote sustainability.
Ann Arbor SPARK remains committed to renewable energy initiatives and the environmental health of the Ann Arbor region. In 2020 SPARK signed up to participate in DTE’s MIGreenPower program, one of the largest voluntary renewable energy programs in the nation. Leading companies in the region like Ford, General Motors, and institutions like the University of Michigan have also enrolled in the program, reducing Ann Arbor’s overall carbon footprint.
Ann Arbor SPARK Services and Resources
Business Development and Site Selector Services
Ann Arbor SPARK works closely with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Michigan Works! Southeast, local municipalities, and other partners to facilitate business location and growth within the region. Our team can help make meaningful connections as well as identify office space and the skilled talent you need to achieve your goals.
Startup and Business Acceleration Resources
The SPARK entrepreneurial services team works closely with early stage startups to expedite their success. A reliable advocate to help founders navigate the entrepreneurial ecosystem, SPARK offers desk space at our incubators in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, business accelerator grants to help achieve significant product development milestones, and mentoring opportunities with the areas experienced business leaders. We’ve also teamed up with the Michigan Small Business Development Center to help our qualified clients apply for the Michigan Emerging Technologies Fund.
In addition to avenues for funding, SPARK initiatives promote collaborative programs in the region. For example, a2Tech360 is an annual weeklong series of events, featuring the region’s companies and leaders. Included in the lineup is the opportunity for angel investors and venture capitalists to hear pitches from early stage startups during the Invest360: Investor Showcase.
Recent Industry Developments
- Three Michigan-based wind parks to provide renewable energy for University of Michigan
- Ford unveils its ‘truck of the future,’ the all-electric F-150 Lightning
- Ann Arbor and DTE collaborate on carbon neutrality programs.
- U-M to purchase half its electricity from renewable energy sources and plans to reduce its yearly carbon dioxide emissions
- Whitmer commits to all renewable energy for state facilities by 2025
- Ann Arbor-based SkySpecs acquires two European wind energy technology companies: Fincovi and Vertikal AI
- Since 2000, the City of Ann Arbor has seen a roughly 14 percent drop in community-wide greenhouse gas emissions.
- Fifteen percent of Ann Arbor residents walk to work, six-times the national average. The city has 475+ sidewalks, 57 miles of shared-use paths, and 87 miles of bike lanes.
- The Huron River is the source of 85 percent of Ann Arbor’s drinking water.
Regional Industry Employers
|May Mobility||Advanced Automotive||170+|
|SkySpecs||Advanced Information Technology||140+|
|Nostrum Energy||Advanced Automotive, Alternative Energy, Research & Development||30|
|Navya Technology||Advanced Automotive||16|
|Refraction AI||Advanced Automotive||10+|
|Renovo Power Technology||Alternative Energy, Manufacturing||6|
|Sesame Solar||Alternative Energy, Homeland Security and Defense Technology||6|
|SUR Energy||Alternative Energy||3|
|Solar Tonic||Alternative Energy||3|
|Black Team Motorbikes||Advanced Automotive||1|