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Granholm, MEDC to Showcase Michigan as Center of 21st Century Innovation at North American Auto Show Symposium

Monday, January 09, 2006

Michael Shore, MEDC
(517) 335-4590

Creators of the Segway, Jones Soda to Highlight Technology Event

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced that the Michigan Economic Development Corporation will host an automotive technology symposium, "The 21st Century Customer," at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Wednesday, January 11.  More than 400 registrants are expected as industry experts address such topics as the future of auto production, producing environment-friendly vehicles and meeting divergent demands of the 21st century marketplace.

Inventor Dean Kamen, best known for his Segway human transporter, and entrepreneur Peter van Stolk, the creator of Jones Soda, Inc. will begin the symposium with a discussion on the consumer driven evolution that demands technological innovation and new marketing approaches.

"Michigan is the intellectual center of the global auto industry," Granholm said. "Michigan is home to more automotive-related R&D activity than Canada, Mexico or any of the other 49 states combined and 215 of the world's vehicle-related R&D centers. The future of the industry is being shaped right here in Michigan and as that future unfolds, we want to make sure that the automotive jobs of the future remain in the U.S. and, more importantly, remain here in Michigan."

Granholm will set the stage for the symposium, which will focus on the confluence of technological flexibility and customer demands for more personalized products. She will be followed by Sean McAlinden, of Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research, who will address the diverse customer segments that challenge the North American vehicle market. Other featured speakers include:

  •  Fred Keller, Cascade Engineering: "The Auto Ecosystem" 
  •  Chris Kersting, Specialty Equipment Market Association: "Future Auto Production & Mass Personalization" 
  •  Robert Schumacher, Delphi Electronics and Safety: "Infotainment - The Automobile as a Communications Medium" 
  •  John Waraniak, TATA Consultancy Services: "21st Century Customerization" 


Kamen and van Stolk will discuss the consumer-driven evolution taking place that demands both technological innovation and new marketing approaches. Kamen has invented numerous medical devices but is most known for the Segway. van Stolk created and grew the Jones Soda Co. into a national brand employing some of the most cutting-edge marketing tactics.

"The success of our automotive industry demands continuous improvement and technological innovation to meet the shifting individual customer needs," MEDC President and CEO James Epolito said. "World-renowned speakers and a forward-looking theme make this symposium a showcase event at this year's Auto Show."

Please visit www.michigan.org/autoshow for full event details.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a partnership between the state and local communities, promotes smart economic growth by developing strategies and providing services to create and retain good jobs and a high quality of life. For more information on MEDC initiatives and programs, visit the Web site at www.michigan.org.