Tech Companies Pivot to Support Michigan’s Arsenal of Innovation

Courtney Overbey

Thursday, May 7, 2020

As home to the highest concentration of engineering talent in the nation and high-caliber startups driving the future of mobility, Michigan has the skilled workforce and high-tech expertise needed to support the growing Arsenal of Innovation.

In recent years, Michigan has fostered a reputation as a growing tech hub where IT, mobility and medical device companies of all sizes can start and grow their business. Now, in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, tech companies throughout all corners of the state are being called on to help Michigan respond to the threat facing its public health, while working to slow the spread of the virus. As a result, Michigan is leveraging its wealth of high-tech talent and culture of innovation to help flatten the curve of COVID-19 and move Michigan toward a state of recovery.

Shortly after the first cases of COVID-19 were detected in Michigan, Grand Rapids-based NxGen MDx announced its immediate launch and availability of a COVID-19 test in response to the rapid rise in cases throughout the country. As a leading women’s health company with a wealth of experience delivering accurate and precise genetic testing, NxGen MDx is now partnering with the state to run more than 3,000 tests each day in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

Similarly, the Centrepolis Accelerator – the Southfield SmartZone out of Lawrence Technological University – is utilizing its 3D printers in an effort to make face shields, along with door openers and button pushers to limit interactions in common areas. Altogether, these materials are being donated to assisted living centers in the area to protect their frontline workers against the spread of COVID-19.

Image courtesy of The Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield

The state’s BBC Entrepreneurial Training and Consulting (BBCetc) program is working with several Michigan tech entrepreneurs to pivot their products in support of the state’s COVID-19 response efforts. This includes supporting startups in retooling to produce masks or use their technologies to sterilize PPE. By leveraging these resources and innovative technologies, Michigan’s tech companies are helping the state respond more efficiently to the crisis at hand.

As many tech companies pivot to provide solutions for frontline health care providers combatting the COVID-19 outbreak, others are applying their technologies to help monitor the impact of society’s efforts to slow the spread of the virus. In Ann Arbor, PlanetM Landing Zone member Voxel51 is helping monitor social behavior in cities around the world using its self-developed Physical Distancing Index. While many cities have implemented social distancing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, this index allows analysts to measure the impact of those efforts over time. As a result, Voxel51 is providing real-time insights to better understand how COVID-19 is impacting human activity and how successful social distancing efforts are in combatting the virus.

While the road to full recovery will not happen overnight, there is no doubt that the innovation and ingenuity of high-tech startups and companies throughout the state will play a key role in helping our state emerge from this outbreak and forge a strong future. And armed with vital support from their communities, the state and the federal government, Michigan’s tech companies and entrepreneurs are coming together to demonstrate that Michigan’s innovation, resilience and unity knows no bounds.

To learn more about the resources available for businesses and workers throughout the state, visit

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