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A new program at the University of Michigan will award funds for researchers to accelerate advanced transportation technologies.

M-TRAC (Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization) is modeled after U-M’s successful Coulter biomedical program and is jointly funded by the university and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for a $330,000 pilot.

M-TRAC Transportation will provide translational research funds for promising new innovations from the College of Engineering and the U-M Transportation Research Institute.

An 11-member oversight committee has been formed to assist in project selection, mentoring and oversight. The committee includes advanced transportation business and market experts, venture capitalists and university leaders.

Members include:
–Alan Amici, head of UConnect, Chrysler Group
–Ken Augustyn, director, SRI Ann Arbor,
–Patricia Glaza, principal, Arsenal Venture Partners
–Tony Grover, co-founder and managing director, RPM Ventures
–Kevin Layden, director of electrified powertrain engineering, Ford Motor Co.
–Rajesh K. Malhan, advanced research director, Denso
–Alain Piette, technology team manager, Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center
–Hamid Servati, president, Servo Tech Engineering
–Gary Smyth, executive director of global research and development, General Motors
–Ken Nisbet, U-M associate vice president for research, technology transfer
–Volker Sick, U-M associate vice president for research, natural sciences and engineering

“Advanced vehicle technologies will provide more value for customers and ultimately revolutionize personal mobility,” said Gary Smyth, one of the oversight committee members. “But to fully realize the promise of electrified, connected and autonomous driving vehicles requires a concerted effort by automotive OEMs, suppliers, governments and university research centers.

“The M-TRAC Transportation Program will be an important Michigan resource for advanced automotive research, technology commercialization and transportation market development.”

M-TRAC, a partnership with the MEDC, will help the College of Engineering, UMTRI, Center for Entrepreneurship and U-M Tech Transfer create an environment that will accelerate promising new technologies for the transportation sector.

“We’re excited about the opportunity this M-TRAC program has to leverage two of Michigan’s great assets for our future—our depth of university technology and the bench strength of our transportation heritage,” said Michael Finney, president and CEO of the MEDC.

Jay Ellis recently joined the M-TRAC Team as program director after 18 years of developing advanced technologies at General Motors. He most recently was the Chevrolet Spark EV program manager.

Project funding solicitations will begin in early fall with initial awards in early December. Funding is available to applicants from the College of Engineering and UMTRI who have reported an applicable invention to U-M Tech Transfer. Funding amounts will average $50,000 to $75,000 for each one-year translational research project.

More information on the M-TRAC-Transportation program can be found at

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