2013 Tech Report Year In Review — The Fourth Quarter, October-December

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October

* The grid is now ready for more wind power from Michigan’s thumb. Novi-based ITC Holdings Corp. said its ITCTransmission subsidiary had placed in service Phase 1 of its 140-mile Thumb Loop high voltage transmission line.

* If you were trying to sign up for health insurance come Jan. 1 on the new online exchanges under the federal Affordable Care Act Tuesday, good luck. We at WWJ could get through Tuesday to all of the information on the healthcare.gov site, but trying to sign up got us an error message explaining that too many site visitors were slowing down the site. Its live chat function wasn’t working either.

* A “Super Business Girl” who makes money by showing other kids how to make money. A doctor born in India, talking about access to health care in Detroit. A reporter describing the news as being like the old story of blind men describing an elephant. A former TV producer who founded Slow Roll Detroit, a bike club. Poets and dreamers, musicians and urban farmers and building experts, giving talk after talk about building a business and building a city. Welcome to TEDxDetroit, the annual conference of short speeches full of passion and promise about life, love, religion, philosophy, business, Detroit and everything. More than 1,000 people attended the expanded event, held in the gorgeous new Riverfont Ballroom at Cobo Center.

* Ann Arbor Spark is expanding both of its business incubators to make room for more entrepreneurs who need space and services. As part of the expansion, Spark Central in downtown Ann Arbor will add 2,500 square feet to its existing space, and Spark East in downtown Ypsilanti will convert one of its large conference rooms to co-working space for its clients.

* The bankruptcy trustee for a failed solar panel manufacturer in Oakland County has sued three Chinese competitors for price-fixing and dumping below-cost solar panels into the United States market. Energy Conversion Devices liquidation trustee John Madden sued Trina Solar Ltd., Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. and Suntech Power Holdings for a total of $950 million, the stated book value of ECD’s assets.

* Airea Studio — a showroom for high-tech office concepts — opened in the Compuware building in downtown Detroit. It’s available for drop-in co-working, and can also be rented out for events. It’s part of an office furniture company owned by former Detroit Piston Vinnie Johnson.

* The 2013 Fall Tech Tour kicked off with a visit to Kalamazoo for MichBio, the state’s biotech industry annual meeting. After that there were visits to cool high-tech startups and spinouts at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Saginaw Valley State University in University Center, Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, and Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.

* Startup Weekend Lansing launches seven new companies.

* Critical Signal Technologies, a provider of medical communications services, opened its new, larger headquarters in Novi.

* NanoBio Corp. will get an initial contract of $5.5 million and up to $5 million more to develop its nanoemulsion technology to improve the performance of flu vaccines. The grant came from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

* Flint’s McLaren Health Care will take over the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit. And the Detroit Medical Center isn’t happy. The DMC says it plans to explore other oncology affiliations.

November

* Consumers Energy, its contractors, Tuscola County-area landowners and local government officials held a groundbreaking event to officially start construction of the company’s second wind park, the 105-megawatt Cross Winds Energy Park.

* Speaking of wind power, Michigan joins the elite “Gigawatt Club,” a handful of states to generate more than a billion watts of electricity from wind power. More than 40 companies in the wind industry now employ more than 3,000 Michiganders. Hundreds of wind turbines dot several major Michigan wind farms, where millions of dollars have been spent on new power lines to carry that electricity to power-hungry cities.

* IDV Solutions, a Lansing-based developer of data visualization software and physical security and risk visualization software, opened an office in Washington, D.C.

* Detroit Labs, an app developer funded by Detroit Venture Partners, opens up in new space in downtown Detroit, the top two floors of the former Lane Bryant store at 1520 Woodward.

* Hundreds line up for a chance to try out Google Glass in an event at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

* The North American International Auto Show releases a new app.

* Two Macomb County musicians release “Tone Recipes, an app that allows users to save personal settings and equipment combinations that produce unique sound tones.

* High-tech battery maker Navitas Systems announces a $9.3 million investment in Pittsfield Charter Township in Washtenaw County and the creation of 125 jobs.

* More than 80 great business ideas were presented at the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition.

* The Ann Arbor-based data center operator Online Tech Inc. announced it would open a new data center in Westland, a $10 million investment that will create 15 jobs.

* The Michigan Economic Development Corp. announced approval of a $3 million Michigan Business Development Program incentive for a $79 million expansion by the particle accelerator components manufacturer Niowave in Lansing. The company plans to add 120 jobs in the expansion. The MEDC also announced approval of a $1.75 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant to HTC Global Services Inc., a Troy provider of IT and business process services.

* Detroit-based Compuware Corp., which provides application performance management technology to a wide variety of businesses, will provide daily analysis of the HealthCare.gov site to determine if improvements being made throughout November are having a positive impact on performance.

* The travel app developer Mobiata announced a redesigned version of its FlightTrack app for iOS and Android. New and notable features include the ability to group flights into trips, easily distinguish who is traveling on specific flights, and view which flights have onboard Wi-Fi.

* There’s good news for jobseekers in the annual University of Michigan economic forecast for Michigan’s economy in the years ahead. The UM forecast says the state will add some 130,000 jobs in 2014 and 105, after gaining about 80,000 jobs this year — and more than a quarter million in total since early 2010.

* A consortium of Southeast Michigan architecture and design firms has been hired to design a $600 million, 2.8 million-square-foot new university in Basra, Iraq to teach petroleum engineering.

* Delphi Automotive PLC (NYSE:DLPH) announced that it will offer its Delphi Connect car-to-cloud/cloud-to-car connectivity system to U.S. Cellular customers.

December

* High-tech lighting in Michigan is a really bright idea. Just ask any of the 250-plus attendees Tuesday who jammed the Electrical Industry Training Center in Warren for the Michigan Advanced Lighting Conference. The advanced lighting industry offers huge benefits for the Michigan economy, the environment, and building owners and managers, speakers said.

* A Novi native and graduate of Michigan State University and Walsh College is making a living online talking about movies in production. Brian Renner’s MovieInsider.com is attracting more than 2 million unique monthly visitors with the latest movie news and release dates.

* Wayne County’s departments of public service and technology Monday rolled out Compass, a smartphone and web app designed to make driving smarter and safer. Check the Web version of Compass at http://compass.waynecounty.com/.

* The Mississippi Public Service Commission rejected a proposed transaction to spin off Entergy’s power lines in the state to Novi-based ITC Holdings Corp. The plan was for ITC to issue Entergy shareholders enough stock to give them a majority of ITC shares worth more than $2 billion. ITC would’ve assumed $1.78 billion in debt. Entergy and ITC won Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval in June. ITC would eventually drop the deal.

* Detroit area and Michigan companies and CIOs in two separate reports predicted robust hiring in the first quarter of 2014.

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