Ann Arbor is a dynamic environment for tech innovation. Its unique environment blends fast-growing technology companies, educational powerhouses, and diverse avenues for research and development.
Information technology (IT) innovation has deep roots in the Ann Arbor region. Notably, software that helped advance the Internet was developed during the 1980s through the Michigan Educational Research Information Triad (MERIT), an effort led by the University of Michigan. Today the sector includes over 370 companies and employs more than 20,000 people.
Going even further back, the University of Michigan played a pivotal role in the early advancement of IT. In 1953, its Michigan Digital Automatic Computer (MIDAC) — designed and built to help solve complex military problems — was only the sixth university-based high-speed electronic digital computer in the country and the first in the Midwest. Three years later, Arthur Burks who was the co-creator of the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) created one of the nation’s first computer science departments at the University of Michigan.
U of M ranks #6 nationally for undergraduate engineering with 33 percent of graduates remaining in the state. This highly skilled talent pool continues to transform the city, making Ann Arbor one of the most educated cities in the country.
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 Invest360: Investor Showcase.
Industry Sector Reports
- Bloomberg ranked Ann Arbor the No. 3 “new top tech hub” in the U.S.
- Detroit’s technology sector has generated 74,821 new jobs over the last decade. Last year, the industry added 5,235 new jobs and contributed around $24.2 billion to the local economy.
- University of Michigan ranked #2 in annual Research spending at 1.6 billion.
- Ann Arbor was ranked the #1 most educated city in America in 2020
- Ann Arbor ranks #11 for remote work nationally.
Recent Industry Projects in Southeast Michigan
- Workit Health and Nexient, LLC are investing $27.2 million in the region, with support from the Michigan Strategic Fund. Together, the two will bring 279 new jobs to the area.
- Dynamo Metrics Continues to Lead Innovation Through Property Data Software
|Company Name||Regional Employees||Description|
|IBM Watson Health||700+||Data and Information|
|ProQuest||600+||Data and Information|
|Google Ann Arbor||400+||AdWords HQ|
|Human Element, Inc.||30+||E-commerce strategy, design, development|
|Workit Health, Inc.||10+||Digital Health|
|Dynamo Metrics Inc.||5+||Data science for local governments|