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TechTown lands $1M to create Detroit Technology Exchange

TechTown is partnering with Bizdom and Invest Detroit to create the Detroit Technology Exchange, an initiative focused on the development of talent, technology, deal flow and cutting-edge startups.

Making it possible is a $1 million grant from the state's Michigan Strategic Fund. The grant, which will be disbursed over a two-year period, is aimed at leveraging existing economic development investments from organizations like the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan to continue the development of Detroit's new economy.

"These power partnerships are what is going to move us forward," says Leslie Smith, CEO of TechTown. "We have to come together collectively to think about the macro problems and tackle them."

The Detroit Technology Exchange consists of four programs geared toward talent retention/attraction, exploiting disruptive technologies, creating robust deal flow, and supporting the early stage startups. The four programs include:

• Integrated Ecosystem Services: This program will institute practices like monthly portfolio reviews to identify opportunities for collaboration and critical marketing and design assistance for companies. The idea is to fill the gaps in the city's entrepreneurial ecosystem and help participating firms attract investment.

• Launch Detroit: A summer boot camp for aspiring entrepreneurs in college (both graduate and undergraduate) that want to launch tech startups. The 10-week program will provide a stipend to participants and work to connect them with the city's entrepreneurial ecosystem. It aims to encourage young talent interested in technology to either remain in Detroit or move to the region.

• D-Venture: This executive-in-residence program will bring selected entrepreneurial-minded professionals to Detroit to create startups out of underutilized or underdeveloped intellectual property. Each participant develops a business plan, acts as CEO, raises seed capital, and receives an annualized salary for six months to one year.

• Detroit Technology Exchange Fellows: This fellowship program will insert individuals into the Motor City's entrepreneurial service organizations and startups. The plan is to infuse high-quality, mid-level talent to Detroit's entrepreneurial ecosystem. It will provide six fellows with an annualized salary over two years.

"More (talent) is better," Smith says. "Sometimes I think we're afraid of more. I think more is better. We are nowhere near having too much talent in the region."

Source: Leslie Smith, CEO of TechTown
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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