The recent news about Ford Mobility’s City Insights Platform is a significant milestone when it comes to developing mobility solutions for our cities. It is also an excellent example of how Ann Arbor SPARK is uniquely positioned to advance private-public partnerships that benefit the region’s economy.
When Ford Mobility first pitched the urban data platform and simulation tool concept, Ann Arbor SPARK immediately recognized its potential to grow the city as a living lab. “This project is another proof point that Ann Arbor is an area of innovation with a rich history of excellence in research and development,” said Paul Krutko, Ann Arbor SPARK president and CEO. “SPARK is uniquely positioned to help bring projects like this to fruition by helping bring private and public entities to the table, plus we have the industry expertise to facilitate conversations from multiple perspectives.”
After the initial project proposal, there was a 90-day pilot to get all stakeholders’ goals and data aligned. The pilot showed promising results with a need for further investment and development. It was at that time Ann Arbor SPARK applied for funding from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). A grant through the PlanetM initiative was awarded and at that time, SPARK took a more active role as grant administrator and project manager.
“We were happy to assist in the development of the city insights tool and help accomplish this incredible collaboration,” said Komal Doshi, Ann Arbor SPARK director of mobility. “In our role, we helped break down silos and set the foundation for future mobility partnerships. This initiative provides us with a system-based approach to access data-driven insights while simulating and deploying mobility initiatives that will improve access and mobility in the city.”
Ford selected Ann Arbor because it has big-city transportation issues, is taking a progressive city planning approach, and is home to many innovators and tech startups. There are currently 213 mobility companies in Washtenaw County. Ann Arbor’s living lab environment presents a real and exciting opportunity for startups and established brands alike to collaborate to advance the mobility industry.