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Ann Arbor invaded by cuteness

The whimsical art of David Zinn has become such a main-stay here in Ann Arbor it's sometimes easy to forget how unique and special his chalk drawings are. Road bloggers certainly didn't take his work for granted as they passed through Ann Arbor.


"What makes Zinn’s work really original is that he’s entirely self-taught. However, I reckon his degree in Creative Writing and English Language has helped him construct the fantastical worlds that he creates on the streets and sidewalks around Ann Arbor."

Check out the photos here.

Also, read this story in the Business Insider.

Ann Arbor-based Stratos develops one card to bind them all

We've covered Stratos big investment scores in a recent issue of Concentrate but it looks like TechCrunch just caught wind of the A2 company developing an all-in-one, inter-connected credit card.


"The startup raised $5.8 million from Midwest and West Coast investors. San Francisco-based Toba Capital led the round with Western Technology Investment, Hyde Park Venture Partners, and Michigan-based Resonant Venture Partners also participating.

Stratos is one of the latest companies to come out of Ann Arbor. Olson was born in Michigan, and its CTO co-founded Detroit Labs. Stratos operates out of the same building that houses the hot security startup, Duo Security."

Read the rest here.

Ann Arbor architecture firm reimagines the city of the future

Welcome to the age of the megalopolis, where networks rather than borders define our community and commerse. Or so imagines a local architecture firm at a new exhibition at the Yale School of Architecture.


"“Infra Eco Logi Urbanism” is the result of a research project devised by Geoffrey Thün, Kathy Velikov and Colin Ripley of RVTR, an architecture firm with offices in Toronto and Ann Arbor, Mich. Their approach illustrates one aspect of a sea change among architects: In the past few years, urban planners and design professionals have become much more intent on confronting such consequences of unchecked growth as air pollution, traffic congestion, contaminated waterways, blighted landscapes and invasive sprawl. They believe that inspirational planning can help make things better."

Read the rest here.

Ann Arbor among top 3 best small cities for college students

The rankings were actually determined by the American Institute for Economic Research. Are you getting list fatigue? We're getting a bit tuckered out keeping track of which top 10 list we've made thos month.


"Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, came in second, with high levels of academic research and development per student and percentage of workers in "innovative" fields.

In third place, Ann Arbor, Michigan reported both a high percentage of college-educated residents as well as a high student concentration."

Read the rest here.

Tech Transfer reports a record year for U-M inventions

Go big or go home. Entrepreneurship is becoming a way of thinking at U-M and this year saw a big uptick in relationships with companies, new inventions and the formation of start-ups.


"U-M Tech Transfer recorded number of advancements in fiscal year 2014, the university reported. Researchers reported 439 new inventions in fiscal year 2014, which is up from last year’s 421. Additionally, U-M Tech Transfer also recorded 148 option and license agreements compared to 108 agreements a year ago. There was also 14 start-ups launched, which brings the total number of businesses launched in the past five years to 55."

Read the rest here.


U-M student entrepreneur profiled

Three cool business innovations are profiled in Entrepreneur's "3 Student Startups That Are Going the Distance" and U-M chemical engineering major Carolyn Yarina made the list with her human-powered centrifuge built from bicycle parts.


"Returning to India over the next two summers, she refined her concept and developed contacts. After graduating in 2013, she worked on her centrifuge full time, eventually developing a portable machine dubbed (r)Evolve that can alternate between manual power and electricity. She also lined up engineering and manufacturing support in India.

But it dawned on Yarina that she needed to go further. "Once I created our student organization and started going to business classes, I had an epiphany," she says. "Open-source designs are not a viable option if you actually want to get your product out there. If it was just about creating a process to separate blood, we would have been done four years ago."

Read the rest here.


Why traffic lanes shouldn't be 12 feet wide

Wider traffic lanes are not safer, nor better for a community. We must realign our thinking away from auto-centric policies and toward people-centric policies.


"And states and counties almost always apply a 12-foot standard.

Why do they do this? Because they believe that wider lanes are safer. And in this belief, they are dead wrong. Or, to be more accurate, they are wrong, and thousands of Americans are dead.

They are wrong because of a fundamental error that underlies the practice of traffic engineering—and many other disciplines—an outright refusal to acknowledge that human behavior is impacted by its environment."

Read the rest here.


Sava Lelcaj makes Crain's "40 Under 40" list

It was inevitable. I mean, seriously, is there an entrepreneur more responsible for transforming downtown Ann Arbor than Sava Lelcaj?


"In the meantime, Lelcaj and her team are preparing to launch a product line and open two new “grocerants,” a concept that she describes as a marriage between a traditional grocery store and a restaurant. The markets will sell ready-to-eat/heat food as well as products from the company’s new line. Both grocerants will be located in Ann Arbor, with one at 2835 Boardwalk and the other at 12 Nickels Aracade. "

Read the rest here.

The town that driverless cars built

Robotic pedestrians and tricky intersections -probably with traffic circle-ignorant drivers- will be part of the research and testing town created for driverless car research.


"A mocked-up set of busy streets in Ann Arbor, Michigan, will provide the sternest test yet for self-driving cars. Complex intersections, confusing lane markings, and busy construction crews will be used to gauge the aptitude of the latest automotive sensors and driving algorithms; mechanical pedestrians will even leap into the road from between parked cars so researchers can see if they trip up onboard safety systems."

Read the rest here.

A conversation about affordable housing in Ann Arbor

Both Mark Maynard and the Metro Times have decided to tackle the issue of affordable housing - or rather the growing lack of such - in Ann Arbor. As usual their thoughts are both insightful and empathetic.

Excerpt from Mark Maynard:

"I don’t have any problem with affordable housing. I think it’s a good thing. What I have a real problem with, however, is segregation. I have a problem with a system where it’s accepted that some towns are “too nice” for the poor. And I find it doubly infuriating when these nice, liberal communities, once they’ve forced their most vulnerable citizens beyond their borders, mount campaigns to stop attempts at regional cooperation, as we recently saw play out in the battle over the AATA’s expanded role in providing bus service within Washtenaw County. Many people in Ann Arbor cried out that they didn’t want their tax dollars going to fund the transportation of people in Ypsilanti, in spite of the fact that many of those people were probably Ann Arborites before they were forced out due to the cost of living. And the same goes for everything from our public schools to our police departments."

Excerpt from the Metro Times:

"It's a good post, one that inspired a lot of people to join in with comments of their own. The general tone is one of despair at what Ann Arbor has become, how it has fallen from its days as a scrappy campus town with a good mix of incomes. After reading them, we come away agreeing that without lots of different kinds of people of different classes with different perspectives, a city is a less interesting place. As for subsidies, one needn't not have a job to not receive subsidies. The fact is, everybody in the United States gets some sort of subsidy, not just the odd person who makes it their life's work to avoid earning a living."

Read Mark's observations and opinions here.

Read the Metro Times respone here.

Ann Arbor charms the socks off a Canadian travel writer

They come from all over but leave singing our praises. Another travel writer (this time from the Great White North), another glowing report about Ann Arbor as a travel destination.


"As I explored the downtown area by foot, I found that this city seemed to resonate with its own special vibe, and its plethora of performing arts theatres, art studios, microbreweries, specialty shops, world-class museums, and numerous parks and green spaces all contributed to the special feeling I had there."

Read the rest here.

U-M spinout produces revolutionary battery technology

U-M tech innovation + entrepreneurial ambition = successful startup. See, math isn't so hard.


"Produced by Sakti3, Inc., a self-proclaimed “spinout” company from the University of Michigan, the battery cell has double the energy density of a current lithium ion battery. In more specific terms, the battery produces over 1,100 Watt hours per liter (Wh/l) in volumetric energy density. Typical lithium-ion batteries produce between 250-730 Wh/l."

Read the rest here.

Ann Arbor's blossoming condo market

And on the flipside of the affordable housing issue... we have this. Hmmm. Any chance our fair city could find a way to create greater (not less) economic diversity?  Because in case you hadn't noticed a few buildings have gone up in downtown Ann Arbor. And guess what? People are moving into them and paying big bucks to do so. Funny how the market works, huh? Demand meet limited supply.


"Many of the current and earlier developments specifically cater to U-M students, offering additional near-campus living options aside from blocks of grubby old houses. Other projects have targeted high-earning professionals and empty-nesters and are filling up faster than local observers anticipated.

Fueling the boom has been an eagerness among lenders to finance high-end student housing projects, the willingness of parents to pay upwards of $1,400 a month for a child’s college bedroom, and what appears to be pent-up demand in general for amenity-filled Ann Arbor apartments."

Read the rest here.

U-M and startup community create an entrepreneurial ecosystem

What do you get when you mix one of the biggest, best-funded institutions in the country with an ever-growing list of aggressive entrepreneurial incubators? Answers revealed in the article link below!


"Student organizations tout entrepreneurial spirit abound — namely MPowered, optiMize and MHacks — and administrative facilities and programs, like the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovate Blue, foster startup ideas and passion, providing resources that turn those concepts into realities.

Even outside the University, startup enthusiasm is everywhere. Incubators and consulting firms like TechArb, Ann Arbor SPARK and Menlo Innovations are in high demand — the former two even partner with the students through Innovate Blue."

Read the rest here.

Ann Arbor filled with brainiacs

Even folks in the U.K. are impressed by the size of our big brains. Which inspires one to ask: Does it also mean we also have big heads?


Move over East Coast elite! Ann Arbor is America's most educated city but New York doesn't even make the top 50, study says:

-The Michigan city is number one among the nation's 150 largest metro areas, according to Wallet Hub
-The study analyzed nine metrics including number of workers in tech and science, quality/size of a city's universities and educational attainment
-Ann Arbor was followed by Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina; Provo, Utah; Provo, Utah; Manchester, New Hamphsire

Read the rest here.
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