It’s a new day for Detroit’s Techstars Mobility.
Make that Techstars Detroit.
The name change reflects an expanded mission for the successful accelerator program, launched in Detroit four years ago. Techstars wants to reach a broader range of entrepreneurs who might not identify themselves as being in the ‘mobility sector,’ says Ted Serbinski, managing director of Techstars Detroit. They include manufacturing industries and others.
Techstars used the Atrium Stage at Automobili-D at the North American International Auto Show to announce its rebranding and other news. The program has a new corporate partner, Southfield-based auto supplier Lear Corp. Other 2019 corporate partners are Ford Motor Company, Honda, AAA, USAA and Nationwide.
Techstars Detroit is also moving to new space downtown, the Lear Innovation Center at Capitol Park. Techstars has previously operated at other locations, including Ford Field and WeWork shared office space on Woodward Avenue.
The Capitol Park location is a better space for the program and Techstars can benefit from being in one of the city’s hot spots.
“It’s important to showcase different parts of Detroit to prospective startups and investors,” says Serbinski, adding the moves represent a “further commitment to Detroit.”
The evolution of Detroit Techstars is evident. Launched four years ago as an incubator for mobility startups, Techstars has flourished in the Motor City. Techstars has facilitated more than 10,000 meetings between startups and entrepreneurs, investors, corporations and government organizations, Serbinski says. Techstars has enticed 44 startups to Detroit from eight counties, industries including automotive, transportation, city infrastructure, travel, manufacturing and materials. They’ve raised over $80 million and are valued at $215 million.
This year marks Techstars third at the North American International Auto Show. Some 65 startups have exhibits at Automobili-D in the lower level of Cobo Center. Serbinski says seventy-seven percent of the startups are first-time exhibitors at NAIAS.
“Symbolically, we are at the bottom of the auto show,” Serbinski says. “But this is where things can start. It’s where we start to connect the dots.”
Among the first-timers exhibiting is WaveSense, which is commercializing ground-penetrating radar developed at MIT. The technology will enable autonomous vehicles to remain in appropriate road lanes, even in inclement weather.
“We’ve had a lot of interest,” says Dan Jamison, an electrical engineer with the company, noting OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers have expressed interest. “It’s a good place to be to connect with other companies interested in this technology. It’s been a pretty positive experience.
Techstars is again looking to recruit 10 startups for its next acceleration round. The accelerator beings in July. Applications will be accepted until April 7.