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Accelerate Michigan pitch competition once again to award over $1M in prizes

If you're a Michigan startup, there's one pitch competition you absolutely have to know about. It's called the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, and the grand prize winner receives $500,000. Even the first and second runners up receive $100,000 and $50,000 respectively. 

The competition is seeking applicants from "high-growth, high-tech," early stage Michigan companies that have received less than $2 million in investment to date. After the first application round, 36 companies are chosen to pitch on-site in front of judges. Of those, 10 will get a chance at a longer presentation at the event's gala dinner on November 16 at the Masonic Temple. 

There's also a competition for Michigan student entrepreneurs. Semi-finalists and finalists will be given a chance to pitch during the same day as the companies for a chance to win a grand prize of $10,000. 

According to Accelerate Michigan, "previous prize winners have fueled over 1000 jobs and raised more than $550 million in additional financing." Past winners of the competition include, SPLT, Banza, SkySpecs, and others dating back to 2010. 

If you're a company or student, you can apply for the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition here. The deadline is Friday, Sept. 1 at midnight. 

With big push from city gov't, protected bike lanes spread across Detroit

"The city is on a path to making biking safer, even if it takes motorists a little time to get used to."

That's the opening sentence of a recent Detroit News article that neatly summarizes the benefits and challenges of new bike lanes in a city so dependent on automobiles. 

The city of Detroit is clearly committed to increasing bike access and infrastructure. Whether it's accumulating land for the Inner Circle Greenway, support for bike share program MoGo, or now, increasing the amount of protected bike lanes. 

"Brightly painted green and white, new 'protected' bike lanes—those with a separation between bike and parking lanes—are popping up in the city, at the cost of nearly $150,000 per mile," writes Shawn D. Lewis. 

There have been protected bike lanes in Detroit since they were first installed in 2015 along Jefferson Avenue on the far east side. Since then, they've been popping up along Livernois Avenue, Michigan Avenue, and various parts of the city. Newer ones along Cass Avenue and Grand River Avenue are more elaborate, with green strips in the lanes and in front of where cars stop at intersections. 

"There are 212 miles of bike lanes in Detroit but only nine miles of them are protected," according to the article. "With current construction on Cass and on East Jefferson from Rivard to Lakewood, 10 more miles will be added. The city has requested that a $1.5 million road project on Grand River include protected bike lanes." 

Most of the funding will come from federal dollars. 

Read the full Detroit News article here

Grand Circus to host pitch competition for minority-led startups

Rates of minority-led startups are regrettably low. According to a 2010 study by CB Insights, less than 1 percent of venture capital-backed startups were black, and latino-owned startups weren't even mentioned. 

That's where Pitch 313 comes in. Taking place on September 7 at Grand Circus Detroit, this pitch competition will give minority-led businesses the chance to sell their businesses to inventors for funding and in-kind services. The exact prizes and amounts have not been determined.

The competition is exclusively for companies led by black & latinx founders. 

According to Pitch 313's website, "The event provides an opportunity for these underrepresented groups to receive some foundational resources to get their idea, concept, or business off of the ground."

The competition is sponsored by Code2040, Google for Entrepreneurs, and Grand Circus.

Deadline for application is August 23 at midnight. Apply for Pitch 313 here

September in Detroit means Design: 2017 Detroit Design Festival kicks off

In Detroit, you might as well call September "Design Month." Thanks to the efforts of Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3), a variety of design-themed events have been planned for the month as part of the Detroit Design Festival (DDF). 

The month kicks off with the Detroit City of Design Summit from Sept. 8 through 15 (last year's inaugural summit was covered by Model D). The event was spurred by UNESCO endowing Detroit with its prestigious "City of Design" designation—the first city in the United States to receive one. It will explore how Detroit can harness the designation and the efforts made towards that goal in the last year.

From Sept. 9 through Oct. 7, guests can view "Footwork," an exhibition put on by a series of partners on the future of work. Model D covered the group that went to St. Etienne, France where the exhibition was originally on display. 

The "festival" portion unofficially begins with a Drinks x Design on Sept. 14, where attendees can grab a program guide and tour some design-centric businesses and organizations. 

As usual, DC3 has helped organize the wondrous Eastern Market After Dark and Light Up Livernois events—annual displays of the ways art and business and historic public spaces can enliven each other. 

The 2017 Detroit Design Festival is taking place throughout most of September and some of October. Most of the events are free. View the whole DDF schedule here

For second year, Open Streets to make parts of Michigan Ave and Vernor Hwy pedestrian-only

Last year, for two days, parts of Michigan Avenue and Vernor Highway became free of vehicular traffic. The event, called Open Streets Detroit, encouraged pedestrians to reimagine the use of roads through the use of vendors, performances, and interactive street art. 

"Ultimately, over 10,000 people came each day, most of them from Detroit," wrote Jessica Meyer, in a piece for Model D about the event. "There were no major injuries besides an occasional bee sting and there was no violence or fighting. Residents from both Corktown and Southwest expressed pride in showcasing their neighborhoods. … Through events like Open Streets Detroit, we can empower Detroiters to think critically about their surroundings and advocate for their right to public space."

The event was such a success, that it's happening once again. Organized by The Downtown Detroit Partnership, the free event will take place on Sunday, October 1, from noon to 5 p.m. There will be an addition to the route this year, beginning at the newly created Beacon Park downtown and connecting to Michigan Avenue. 



"We received a lot of positive feedback from participants and business owners from last year's events, and we're looking forward to working with the Corktown and Southwest Detroit communities to further build off that momentum," said Lisa Nuszkowski, project lead for Open Streets Detroit, in a press release. "We found that there is a real desire for a program like Open Streets, which helps connect communities, support local businesses, and encourages people to get out and get active."

The organizers are also seeking program sponsors, "who can create family-friendly participatory activities focused on health, wellness, arts and culture." 

[Open Streets Detroit was also featured in a Model D piece about the future of Michigan Avenue]

Open Streets Detroit takes place on Sunday, October 1, from noon to 5 p.m. Apply to be a program sponsor here

Pure Detroit offers public walking tours of Packard Plant

For years, the Packard Plant has been a kind of mecca for urban explorers. It's no wonder—the 3.5 million square foot ruin has been abandoned for decades and is a marvel of might and blight. 

But soon, you won't have to be a trespassing explorer to see in inside of the Packard Plant. Pure Detroit, in partnership with Arte Express Detroit, will offer public walking tours of the historic Packard Plant on Saturdays, beginning August 12. 

The tours will last 90 minutes and cost $40. With space limited to 30 adults per tour, you'll have to reserve your spot in advance.

"Pure Detroit is excited to help highlight the extraordinary history of the Packard Plant with our partners Arte Express Detroit and the Packard Plant Project," said Kevin Borsay, owner of Pure Detroit, in a press release. "Our walking tours will offer a unique and enriching experience that focuses on the plant's past, present, and future contribution to the vitality of the city."

There have been rumors floating around about redeveloping the Packard Plant for years. Developer Fernando Palazuelo had said he plans to invest $500 million into the project. According to an article in Curbed Detroit, the first phase, a $16 million renovation of the Administration Building, will be completed by the end of 2018. "The building will be renovated for offices, with restaurant, gallery, and event space on the first floor."

Register for a tour of the Packard Plant here

Grand Circus partners with Facebook to offer tuition-free coding bootcamp

We at Model D have been covering Detroit's efforts to grow its tech-ready workforce, whether it's investing in autonomous vehicle technology, giving grants for technology-based solutions to the city's issues, or offering scholarships and free courses for coding. 

There's even more on the way. Just this week, Allied Media Projects announced its NextGen App program, which will train youth in app development and coding in connection with its Equitable Internet Initiative. (You can read more about it in this article on the initiative, which was a unique collaboration between the nonprofit, Rocket Fiber, and the New Economy Initiative.)

Grand Circus, a downtown technology learning institute, is continuing to train Detroiters with its Facebook Bootcamp. The eight-week, tuition-free course is sponsored by Facebook and will teach students a variety of coding languages, like HTML5/CSS3 and JavaSript. They'll also get job assistance training and "guaranteed first-round interviews at Michigan technology firms, including Accenture, a global professional services company."

"Partnering with Facebook allows us to continue to position Grand Circus graduates as leaders in the technology field," said Damien Rocchi, CEO of Grand Circus, in a press release. "The specialized training that this bootcamp offers in React prepares students with the necessary skillset to thrive in today's digital environment and fill a shortage of computer coding professionals."

25 students will be accepted into the bootcamp, which takes place from Oct. 16 through Dec. 8 of this year. Grand Circus is accepting applications on a rolling basis. 

For more information or to apply for Grand Circus's Facebook Bootcamp go here.

WWII-era themed party to benefit at-risk women veterans in Detroit

The creators of Detroit Gastby, a bi-annual 1920s themed party, are organizing another historically-themed event. And once again, a portion of the proceeds are going to charity. 

Pin-Ups and Privates will be a 1940s USO-style swing dance event to support homeless women veterans through Activate Detroit Potential (ADP), a nonprofit that supports at-risk women in Detroit. 

The event will take place at the Detroit Boat Club on Belle Isle featuring music played by the Rhythm Society Orchestra, "a 15-piece dance band specializing in 1940s Big Band music." Tickets will also get you a WWII-era cocktails and beverages, and a dinner from chef Jeffrey Tatum. 

Attendees are encouraged to dress in era-appropriate attire, "ranging from pin-up looks to zoot suits and 1940's military wear."

Pin-Ups and Privates takes place on August 24 from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. You can purchase tickets here

Nine tours offered at the 20th Annual Detroit Tour of Urban Farms and Gardens

Detroit has an impressive number of urban farms -- over 1,500 according to Keep Growing Detroit -- a number that has grown significantly in recent years. But the the urban farm "movement" has been alive in the city for some time, as demonstrated by the fact that the 20th Annual Detroit Tour of Urban Gardens and Farms takes place August 2. 

Presented by Keep Growing Detroit, patrons can take one of nine bus and bike tours organized by theme and location. For example, a west side bus tour, called "Making Institutional Change," will swing by D-Town Farm, Detroit Public School's Charles R. Drew Transition Center, and Knagg's Creek Farm to demonstrate "how farms are inspiring systemic changes in our community."

Other tours will highlight black-led farms, farms with a focus on youth development, the history of urban farming in Detroit, and more. 

All the tours will begin in Eastern Market at 6:00 p.m. and last approximately two hours. Afterwards, there will be a reception with local produce cooked by local chefs. 

Keep Growing Detroit, an urban agriculture organization dedicated to food sovereignty in Detroit, hopes to not only showcase these farms, but educate attendees about Detroit's food system.

"We demand healthy, green, affordable, fair, and culturally appropriate food that is grown and made by Detroiters for Detroiters," writes the organization in a press release. "Transforming our broken food system begins with ensuring there are places to grow food in every neighborhood in the city. Places where residents can dig their hands in the soil to cultivate a healthy relationship to food, learn healthy habits from family and neighbors, and nurture an economically viable city where residents are strong and thrive."

The 20th Annual Detroit Tour of Urban Gardens and Farms takes place August 2 at 6:00 p.m. Purchase tickets at the Eventbrite page

$12 million development on site of 1967 rebellion in the works

The corner where the 1967 Detroit rebellion began, 12th and Clairmont, has been largely abandoned for decades. But an estimated $12 million development deal might change that. 

According to a Detroit News article, Karasi Development Group is working with the city of Detroit to construct three new mixed-use buildings to the area with ground-floor retail and 45 residential units. 

"The first phase is underway on Atkinson," writes Louis Aguilar, "just around the corner from Rosa Parks, with the overhaul of a dilapidated house that will become the Karasi Education & Cultural Center. The group is in talks with the Motown Museum and the Rosa Parks Institute for potential partnerships at the center."

One of the developers, Katrina Lockhart, was a resident of the neighborhood at the time of the rebellion, and says that, "Most everything was gone (after the five days in July), the stores were burned and most never opened again." 

The last building was razed less than two years ago. 

The article goes on to detail other developers in the Atkinson area, Century Partners, who was profiled in a Model D article on the North End neighborhood.

Read the full Detroit News article here

Engaging with '67: Local exhibitions, writings, and movies on the rebellion

This July 23 will mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 riots (or rebellion) in Detroit. It's a complicated historical event that resulted in massive social and economic implications for our region. And it's prompted a great deal of commentary in media outlets, essays, exhibitions, and more. To help readers engage with the events of 1967, here's a mini-roundup of the ways it's being thought about across the city.

Model D published an excerpt from an essay by author Desiree Cooper, "It can happen here," about the complicated feelings surrounding Detroit's revival, and how to make sure it's rising for everyone. The essay appeared in a recent anthology, "Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies," published by Wayne State University Press, that covers a range of topics related to the riots from the history of colonial slavery in Detroit to reflections from schoolchildren at the time.

WSU Press also republished a book from 1969, "The Detroit Riot of 1967," written by Hubert G. Locke. It's a firsthand, sometimes minute-by-minute account of the riots as witnessed by the administrative aide to Detroit's police commissioner.

Crain's Detroit Business put out a special report on the riots that includes a timeline of the events that lead to the outbreak, an article detailing the history of the vibrant Black Bottom and Paradise Valley neighborhoods (as well as the "urban renewal" project that lead to their demise), the economic consequences of the riot, and more. 

Bill McGraw wrote an article in the Detroit Free Press asking what is the most appropriate way to describe the events of 1967: riot or rebellion (or uprising or civil disturbance). "Riot" has been the mainstream way to describe it for decades, but "rebellion" has been gaining traction. "The word of choice [for certain politically-active groups] has become 'rebellion,'" writes McGraw, "reflecting the long-held belief among a number of people that black Detroiters in 1967 were fighting back against systemic racism."

"Rebellion" is how the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History describes those events, which it will explore further in its exhibition, "Say It Loud: Art, History, Rebellion," opening July 23, the day the rebellion started.

The Detroit Historical Museum has been getting a great deal of positive press about its exhibition. "Detroit 67: Perspectives" collected hundreds of oral histories and scholarly input to create a narrative that spans the years before, the weeks during, and years since the riots. 

There's also movies, recently or soon to be released, covering the summer of '67. One, simply called "Detroit," directed by Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow, takes place during the rebellion. It comes out August 4, and you can watch it out at Cinema Detroit

A locally-produced documentary, "12th and Clairmount," premiered at the Freep Film Festival, and features archival footage, home videos, and interviews with eyewitnesses and historians. There is one more currently sold-out screening at Cinema Detroit on July 24, but the owners say there may be a few tickets available the night of the show. 

There's many more ways to read about or engage with the riots of 1967. Let us know about other local events by commenting below, tweeting us @modeld, or sending an email to feedback@modeldmedia.com.

Report on youth sports in Southeast Michigan gives region a C+

Sports are an essential part of youth development, and one of the best ways for kids to be active and healthy. But according to a new report, Michigan isn't doing enough to provide outlets for, and encourage youth engagement in, sports.

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan released State of Play, "an independent assessment conducted by the Aspen Institute's Sports & Society Program that examines access, quality, and participation in youth sports in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, Livingston, Monroe, and St. Clair counties."

The report, which gave the Southeast Michigan region a grade of C+, contains some alarming regional deficiencies, such as the fact that only "13 percent of youth across Southeast Michigan are physically active one hour a day, the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

One interesting finding is that the lack of kids to play freely—whether in neighborhood games, on the playground, or by sampling many sports—has negatively impacted the amount of and their desire to exercise.

"Our vision is to have a Southeast Michigan community in which all children, regardless of ZIP code or ability, have the opportunity to be active through sports," said David O. Egner, President & CEO, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. "The State of Play report identifies the challenges we face as a region, but more importantly, it also shares the opportunities that all of us in the community—parents, educators, funders, and leaders—can pursue for improvement."

Some of those opportunities outlined in the report include bigger ideas like connecting stakeholder silos and bringing play spaces closer to where children live, and more specific suggestions like forming equipment exchanges or starting a youth sports blog. 

Download the full report here

Local challenge offers $100,000 for technology-based innovations to city issues

Urban centers in America are growing—fast. And cities are looking to tech companies for ways to address issues that will arise with these changes. 

That's what "NextChallenge: Smart Cities" is all about. A partnership between NextEnergy, DENSO, DTE Energy and Wells Fargo, the competition will award $100,00 in grants to winners who propose solutions in the categories of parking, mobility, infrastructure, and buildings, with an emphasis on integrated, data-driven approaches. 

"The goal is to identify new technology to address urban challenges related to safety, mobility, emissions, accessibility, and congestion while also driving economic development in the region," said Jean Redfield, president and CEO, NextEnergy. "The inaugural challenge brought talented individuals and creative solutions from around the world and we're looking forward to another great year of innovative ideas and advancement in Smart City technology."

Last year's winner, Calida Energy, created an app which optimizes energy use in commercial buildings. "The Occupant App software uses real-time data collected from occupants via a comfort survey to empower building operators to more efficiently heat and cool buildings based on occupants' comfort and presence."

An informational webinar will be held on July 27 to learn more about the application process and what sponsors are looking for. 

Applications must be submitted by midnight on Aug. 18. Register for the webinar here.

American cities, including Detroit, invest heavily in autonomous vehicle tech

A huge race is underway. It's not a car race, but it does involve cars. 

American cities are vying to be the country's hub for autonomous vehicles, according to a recent article in the Detroit Free Press. And they're doing so by investing hundreds of millions of dollars in testing facilities, research institutions, car companies, and more. 

Some of the cities trying to seize this potentially world-shifting technology include well-known tech hubs like Austin and Boston. But the list also includes cities like Reno, where Telsa built a factory and Google purchased 1,210 acres, many suspect, to build an autonomous vehicle testing facility. 

Detroit and Michigan are as well-poised as any place. In addition to major research institutions committed to this technology, like the University of Michigan, there's also the under-construction American Center for Mobility, an enormous autonomous vehicle test facility located in Ypsilanti that's expected to open later this year.  

[For more information on the American Center for Mobility, check out this Model D article on the future of Michigan Avenue]

"What we're going to create is ... a lifelike proving ground so we can really exercise these (driverless) vehicles," said John Maddox, CEO of the American Center for Mobility, in the Free Press article. "No one will have the full scope of what we will have."

There's also, of course, the major auto companies still in the state, all of which are investing in autonomous vehicles. 

City of Detroit to purchase 7.5-mile stretch of abandoned rail for use in Inner Circle Greenway

Earlier this month, Model D reported that the Detroit Greenways Coalition received a grant to develop the Inner Circle Greenway across 1.4 miles in Highland Park. Well, there's even more good news about the prospect for the 26-mile series of bike lanes and greenways connecting the city by non-motorized pathways.
 
The city of Detroit has announced that it's agreed in principle to purchased 7.5 miles of abandoned rail from Conrail for $4.3 million. While the sale still needs to be approved by the Conrail board and Detroit City Council, construction preparation could begin as early as this fall. The city will be reimbursed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Department of Transportation.
 
"The Inner Circle Greenway is going to connect Detroiters from every corner of the city to some of our greatest resources," said Mayor Mike Duggan in a statement. "Residents will have a safe and reliable non-motorized path of greenways and bike lanes connecting them to the riverfront, Eastern Market, parks across the city, and more."
 
This stretch of rail, the largest gap in the path, would constitute nearly 30 percent of the entire Inner Circle Greenway. Other completed portions include the Dequindre Cut, Riverfront, and Southwest Detroit Greenlink. 
 
"The goal of the greenway is to connect neighborhoods previously separated by freeways and disjointed transit via pedestrian and bike paths," according to a press release fro the city. 
 
The plan has been in the works for years—Model D first reported on it in 2015. But it's never felt closer to a reality. 
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