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Ann Arbor Spark


Ann Arbor, Michigan: Where business intersects with advanced research, leading visionaries, abundant financial resources, a vibrant economic development initiative, and an immense talent pool.

Home to the University of Michigan — the leading public university in research and development — and influenced significantly by its proximity to Detroit, the Ann Arbor region has always been a magnet for automotive businesses.  Today, with transformative technologies quickly evolving the automotive sector, Ann Arbor’s strengths have propelled its status as a hub of connected and autonomous vehicle innovation.

Industry R&D:
As mentioned above, the University of Michigan drives a significant amount of research and development in the region and is part of the University Research Corridor. Additionally, companies like Toyota are selecting the Ann Arbor region for R&D centers. The expanded Toyota Research Institute of North America, Hyundai American Technical Center, and FordLabs are just a few of the companies located here.

Industry Cluster:
Ann Arbor’s thriving tech culture has ties back to The University of Michigan’s historic ARPANET research effort, the forerunner of today’s Internet. From Ann Arbor SPARK incubators to the Pinckney Cyber Training Institute, the region has grown and attracted several companies focused on automotive embedded control systems, specifically automotive cybersecurity.

In addition to the top talent graduating from the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University, Washtenaw Community College recently opened its Advanced Transportation Center – a facility committed to preparing professionals and skilled laborers for jobs in intelligent transportation, advanced manufacturing, and automotive services.

Testing and Validation:
In addition to testing vehicles, roads, and communication systems at The American Center for Mobility and Mcity, the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory (NVFEL) located in Ann Arbor is a key benefit to companies who choose the region for R&D. National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory is also a historic reason why the region had automotive R&D in the first place.

Living Lab:
Ann Arbor SPARK is working closely with eight partners to implement a living laboratory for mobility in downtown Ann Arbor. Joining SPARK are Amazon Web Services, Deloitte Consulting, Ford Smart Mobility, the City of Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan and others, collaborating on a city level “operating system” that will enable “plug and play” hardware such as vehicles and street-level infrastructure, as well as data management, payment, and other software systems to allow maximum efficiency.

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