Contrary to the “flyover country” label assigned to the Midwest, Ann Arbor attracts the attention of international companies and talent. There are several reasons for this, one being that the University of Michigan (U-M) welcomes thousands of international students every year from all over the world. In fact, next to Michigan, China was home to the most U-M students. The University Musical Society hosts cultural events from around the world throughout their season (checkout the Berlin Philharmonic coming in November!), and Ann Arbor has hosted two of the most-watched international soccer matches in the U.S. – nearly 106,000 visited the Big House over the summer to watch Chelsea and Real Madrid battle it out (Real Madrid topped Chelsea, BTW). Foreign investment in Michigan is big business – over the last 5 years, there has been over $7 billion in foreign direct investment in Michigan, with Ann Arbor as one of the top 5 destinations. Firms from around the world have made investments here and employ thousands of people in our region. Japan, Germany, Spain, Thailand, Israel, the UK, India and France are just some of the countries we count as investors in the Ann Arbor region. International investment continues to grow at a fast clip as well – Liebherr, Toyota, Chem-Trend, Antolin, Zoller, Thai Summit, Mahindra GenZe, and Pollard Banknote are just a few of the international companies that have expanded around the region over the past couple of years, and we’re continuing to see investment of companies of all sizes. Encouraging foreign investment in the Ann Arbor region is an important part of our work, and we’ve developed a Foreign Direct Investment committee at SPARK to focus specifically on this effort. And while our existing companies continue to significantly invest and grow their operations, we’ve seen multiple international startups emerge to take advantage of Ann Arbor’s hub as “Startup City.” Take Curo, for example, which just completed an initial $1 million round of funding and has chosen Ann Arbor as their U.S. headquarters. The company provides tools to let healthcare providers get unobtrusive insight into patients that value living independently, but still need outside care. They’ve pitched at A2 New Tech and landed at the SPARK Innovation Center, where their director and co-founder from Australia now sit. Curo is just one example; earlier this year we welcomed iTiZZiMO to Ann Arbor SPARK’s Innovation Center. iTiZZiMO is a German-based company that is starting to access the U.S. market through streamlined business apps and digital processes. We also welcomed Karamba Security, an Israeli automotive cybersecurity firm that just announced a $2.5 million raise and NoQ, another Australian startup serving the grocery ecommerce market. The Ann Arbor region is a diverse place, with people, ideas, and businesses from all over the world coming to learn, study, raise families, and grow their companies. Ann Arbor SPARK is here to help companies get their feet on the ground – we have a team of professionals ready to assist, and a Soft Landing Toolkit to help companies get the basics of setting up shop in the U.S. Combined with the region’s unique assets, Ann Arbor SPARK’s support for international businesses ensures continued investment and jobs in our region, and the further growth of our economy.
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