For each webinar, MIBA selects four or five Israeli companies to present to any interested party in the public or private sector.
The Michigan Israel Business Accelerator (MIBA) is about one thing — positioning Michigan in the premier partnership role for Israeli innovation.
It accomplishes its goal by what its CEO Scott Hiipakka calls the “3 C’s”:
- connections and
“Because we work statewide, we focus among all the different partners across Michigan to build connections that ultimately yield collaborations that will create jobs or create some form of economic opportunity for our state,” Hiipakka said.
As part of that work, MIBA launched a program of “Experience Innovation” Webinars this summer to answer the question: In a post-COVID world, what do Michigan businesses need?
“It’s not so much hand sanitizer and masks, right?” Hiipakka said. “It’s about ways to grow efficiency, leveraging staff talent and building an ecosystem that is more and more connected. It’s no longer about geographic boundaries. It’s about partnerships.”
For each webinar, MIBA selects four or five Israeli companies to present to any interested party in the public or private sector. Each company has about eight minutes to make its pitch, followed by a Q&A. “The whole program lasts a little bit less than an hour. It’s almost like speed dating for innovation,” Hiipakka said.
The first Webinar, held in June, focused on Industry 4.0. The second one, held in September, focused on clean tech, climate tech and the circular economy, and it resulted in over 50 connections being made between Michigan and Israeli companies, he added. The next Webinar is planned for November; the topic is still being decided.
Innovation Centers of Excellence
“We’re focused on building strong partnerships throughout the state through our Innovation Centers of Excellence,” Hiipakka said. “Don’t think of them as brick-and-mortar structures; it is more like a coalition of the willing — those partners who see Israeli innovation and recognize what it represents to our state.”
Those Innovation Centers, launched in 2020-2021, include:
- Industry 4.0 Accelerator (in partnership with Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield), which focuses on advanced engineering;
- Cleantech, Climatech & Circular Economy Accelerator, (also launched in partnership with Centrepolis), which focuses on sustainability;
- MedHealth Gateway Program (in partnership with MedHealth-TechTown) focusing on life sciences;
- and FARM Incubator (launched in partnership with the West Michigan Food Processing Association and Michigan State University) focusing on food and agriculture.
Two new programs are in the planning stage, to concentrate on defense and mobility.
Partnerships in Action
“The Industry 4.0 Accelerator is focused on advanced manufacturing on steroids and leveraging the IOT, or ‘internet of things,’ all about creating smart systems for manufacturing,” Hiipakka said.
“Centrepolis was already focused on these things and saw the need to partner with us and bring Israeli innovation to the state.”
Over a year later, the two partnered on the Cleantech, Climatech & Circular Economy Accelerator, focused on how to create a more sustainable Michigan.
Centrepolis is one of few incubator accelerators in Michigan that has global reach, according to its Executive Director Dan Radomski. “For both our accelerators, we’re looking for the best technology companies in the world.”
Naturally, they looked toward Israel. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen more talented tech companies and startups as we do out of Israel than any other place in the world,” Radomski said.
Working with MIBA and Start-Up Nation Central, Centrepolis identifies best-in-class companies that can provide meaningful value to Michigan companies and are ready to expand in North America.
“One of the best examples is Daika Wood,” Radomski said. Daika Wood takes wood waste, even laminated wood, and shreds and remolds it, creating products such as picture frames. “Michigan furniture manufacturers have tons of waste that used to go to an incinerator, which isn’t great for the environment. This is the kind of partnership that can help make our state more sustainable.”
Other examples of Israeli companies active in Michigan include GuardKnox, an Israeli company that works on cybersecurity in the auto sector, and Inspekto, which provides quality control technology for Industry 4.0.