Three prominent entities have banded together to give Michigan a leap forward in manufacturing amidst the 4th Industrial Revolution. Automation Alley, Lean Rocket Lab and Lawrence Technological University’s (LTU) Centrepolis Accelerator have created a new Industry 4.0 Accelerator program, which is the first of its kind in the U.S. The goal is to help small and medium-sized technology and manufacturing companies along their digital transformation journeys.

The first industrial revolution was brought about by mechanization in the early part of the 19th Century. Michigan, particularly Detroit, played an integral part in the second, which saw the creation and global implementation of the internal combustion engine. The third took a toll on many manufacturers with the rise of electronics, telecommunications and of course computers. Those that were slow to embrace the new technology have seen factories shuttered and jobs lost.

We are now living and working through, what many are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0. It began at the dawn of the new millennium with that transformative digital miracle known as the Internet and has come to be known as the convergence of the digital and physical technologies disrupting industry. It includes technologies like artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, advanced robotics, 3D printing and digital twin. If Michigan’s prominent manufacturing, mobility, and technology sectors are to prosper, its companies must understand the power, significance and possibilities presented by the rapid advancement of technology.

The Industry 4.0 Accelerator program is an innovative step in that direction. It is a $2.5 million investment fund made possible through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) with $1.3 million currently available for early-stage companies as well as established firms looking to commercialize products, services or technologies within the Industry 4.0 sector.

Companies involved in the program will receive direct investment and business coaching services to help spur innovation, commercialization and growth. The program is also looking for larger firms and organizations to partner on this effort and support Industry 4.0 adoption by Michigan manufacturers.

Each participating company will find services customized to meet its needs. They may range from pilot and demonstration project funding support to product development partnerships to individualized training and mentorship, to company growth assessments, to shared workspaces, and more tools for strategic planning, milestone progress and team development.

As a nonprofit technology and manufacturing business association, Troy’s Automation Alley has long been regarded as a local leader when it comes to making complex concepts easier for companies to understand and implement. Not surprisingly, this project too, will be led by Automation Alley, with two newer, but equally impressive entities taking on supportive roles.

“Industry 4.0 is challenging the way businesses operate around the globe. It’s no longer a question of whether your company will be affected by the digital transformation but when. We are pleased to partner with Lean Rocket Lab and LTU’s Centrepolis on the Industry 4.0 Accelerator program and are looking forward to investing in innovative companies and Michigan’s future,” said Tom Kelly, executive director and CEO of Automation Alley.

Making its way onto the scene in 2018, Jackson’s Lean Rocket Lab provides entrepreneurial services and business validation, incubation, and accelerator programming to manufacturing and technology-focused startups throughout the state.

“The attraction, development and deployment of the best technologies will help these companies succeed and simultaneously ensure Michigan’s continued role as the epicenter of advanced manufacturing,” added Brandon Marken, founder and CEO of Lean Rocket Lab.

LTU’s Centrepolis Accelerator in Southfield is a high-tech prototyping and virtual reality equipment space to help entrepreneurs, designers and dreamers create the next generation of hardware. The 6,300-sq. ft. state-of-the-art center opened its doors in 2019.

“There is simply no better location for an Industry 4.0 Accelerator than in the heart of the world’s most important advanced manufacturing market—Michigan!” said Dan Radomski, Director, Centrepolis Accelerator.

Author: Lisa Diggs

Lisa Diggs is a writer, speaker, entrepreneur, business consultant, avid traveler, and founder of The Catalyst Company, LLC, Michigan Positivity Project, and Buy Michigan Now.