At Verizon Ventures, we’re always looking to connect with innovative and forward thinking entrepreneurs. It’s also important for us to invest in communities where we see potential and to keep resources flowing into those areas. As the center of the transportation ecosystem, Detroit has become a hub for technology advancements from self-driving cars to ridesharing apps and smart brake lights.
Back in December, we announced our partnership with Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit, a three-month accelerator program for companies dedicated to creating technologies that improve the ease and safety of driving. In early June, the inaugural class of ten companies kick-started the program, including Ansik, CDL Warrior, Classics & Exotics, Cosmos Browser, Elegus Technologies, GearBrake, Motoroso, My Dealer Service, Splitting Fares and WISE Systems.
Today, Verizon Ventures is proud to announce that (on top of the direct access we’ve provided to our telematics mentors) we have also supported participating teams with investment capital so they can continue to scale their businesses. In addition to seeing the Techstars Mobility entrepreneurs excel within the three-month program, we look forward to partnering on disruptive solutions with them in the future.
Beyond Techstars Detroit, Verizon has just announced our involvement in the University of Michigan’s hub for automotive advancement, called M City. M City is located on the UofM’s North Campus and will be a 4.2-mile network designed to test self-driving cars made by General Motors, Ford, Nissan and Honda. The course will include multiple lanes, intersections, roundabouts, road signs, sidewalks, bus stop shelters, building facades, streetlights, parked cars and pedestrians. Prior to M City, driverless cars were tested on public roads, or private grounds. These environments were not controlled, preventing accurate testing of how cars cope with everyday driving.
The M City project is part of UMTRI's Mobility Transformation Center, the latest stage of a $100 million, eight-year investment from the US DOT and a consortium of corporate partners which includes Verizon, Ford, GM, Honda, Nissan and Toyota. Suppliers include Delphi, Denso and Robert Bosch and other partners such as Econolite, Iteris, State Farm, Qualcomm, and Xerox.
This center is exciting for the general automotive industry, and even more so for the U-M engineering students who will be able to work in this environment to test real tech advancements, not simulations. We’re along for the ride and but helping our partners steer what comes out of both M City and Techstars Mobility, by Detroit.