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High-tech startups find success in Michigan with support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation
Michigan-made consulting company DornerWorks Ltd. is modernizing the relationship between business products and technology. Founder and Owner David K. Dorner explains his practice as ‘embedded systems engineering,’ which enhances the technology hidden under the exterior of a product. For instance, a TV screen will display what channel you like to watch, but the technology behind the screen is what really does all the work—connecting signals, running the electricity and more. DornerWorks specializes in the technology hidden behind the screen.
Solidifying a new business as an emerging leader is difficult in today’s technology-focused industry, as competition from other companies is rapidly rising. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) provided DornerWorks with a Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA) tax credit for the buildout of the company’s USS Constitution building in 2010 and a $200,000 grant for the renovation of the company’s USS Enterprise building in 2018. These expansions and the support received from the MEDC along the way allowed DornerWorks to fulfill its commitment of investing in Grand Rapids buildings and creating new high-tech jobs.
“MEDC has been at my side since I started this business,” Dorner says. “Every time I’ve taken a leap in growth, I’ve partnered with the MEDC to help figure out the best places and communities to plug DornerWorks into.”
From concept to commercialization, the MEDC helps small businesses like DornerWorks expand their market reach. The MEDC’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation team works with high-tech startups to identify expert counsel and increase intellectual property, job growth and partnerships with other Michigan businesses. For example, SmartZones are 21 geographical locations around the state where young businesses and established communities congregate and collaborate. Additionally, the BBC Entrepreneurial Training and Consulting program gives training to state-based tech companies by funding research and technology transfer proposals.
“The reach and support we’ve had from the MEDC’s resources are unmatched,” Dorner says. “Plus, we’re excited to be able to execute all this national and international growth right inside Michigan.”
Today, DornerWorks develops products for a variety of businesses, such as automotive, consumer, industrial and aerospace companies. An example of DornerWorks’ technology can be found in Traeger’s Pellet Grills. The DornerWorks team developed the technology software in the grill to allow cooking control through a phone. With the expertise of the DornerWorks team, cooks around the world can smoke meats, barbeque and more with the touch of a button.
Through the extensive connections made possible through the MEDC, DornerWorks technology can reach consumers at multiple market levels across the globe. Every day, the MEDC is helping high-tech startups like DornerWorks take their products from ideation to commercialization. To learn more about the programs and services offered by the MEDC, visit michiganbussiness.org/entrepreneurship.