In the News

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What about donating solar power to Michigan non-profits?

Dave Strenski of Ypsi Solar has come up with a great idea - donating solar power to your favorite nonprofit! Not only are you investing in that organization's future, you are promoting sustainability and helping to bring down installation costs by engaging with the green economy.

Ann Arbor Coherix teams with Chinese firm, lands $12M in investment

The world just gets smaller and smaller and smaller. Ann Arbor's Coherix has taken on a Chinese investor to the une of $12M to help market their current technology and develop more products for their target industries.

Siemens chooses Ann Arbor as "Center for Intelligent Traffic Technology"

Siemens has been using Ann Arbor as a guinea pig for traffic flow management research, and now intends to expand its program to include more than 50 local intersections.

U-M classes inspire local government careers

Students at the University of Michigan are taking classes that foster both inspiration and insight into the practical application of public service. The result for some has been a new career in local politics. 

Stockholm institutes "reverse congestion dividends"

In an effort to fight congestion, cities aren't just charging auto users more (something american cities would do well to consider) but also creating financial incentives for commuting cyclists.

 

Ann Arbor-based LLamasoft grows business and jobs

How do we know that LLamasoft is burning economic rubber? Well, first, it was named to the Deloitte 2015 Technology
Fast 500 for the fourth consecutive year. Second, it's currently looking to add 20 new employees.

Excerpt:

LLamasoft has been on a relatively fast growth track, according to company officials. It added 75 employees last year and expects to do the same by the end of this year. In each of the last three years, LLamasoft has ranked as the fastest-growing supply chain software company in the Deloitte Fast 500 list of North American technology companies.

Read the rest here.

The company will hold a career fair from 4-7 p.m. Nov. 19  at its headquarters at 201 S. Main St.

Ann Arbor libraries are on the cutting edge of innovation

The rise of the Internet culture has challenged libraries across the nation to rethink their role in the community. Luckily, the Ann Arbor Library is on the cutting edge of this thinking, evolving its mission and offerings in exciting and unconventional ways.

Excerpt:

The Ann Arbor District Library has been adding to its voluminous collection of circulating science equipment. It offers telescopes, portable digital microscopes and backyard bird cameras, among other things — items that many patrons cannot afford to buy. Dave Menzo, a 28-year-old musician, created a whole album by borrowing electronic music equipment, including a photocell-controlled synthesizer called a Thingamagoop.

Read the rest here.

Ghostly Records featured in NY Times

We here at Concentrate have long sung the praises of Ghostly Records, which was founded by U-M alum Sam Valenti. Heck, they even provided us with music for our videos. Now, the New York Times' business section is finally noticing this cooler-than-cool company.

Excerpt:

"A diversified product line can be a smart survival strategy in a struggling business, which the music industry continues to be 16 years after Napster shattered the highly profitable model of selling CDs. But according to Sam Valenti IV, Ghostly’s founder, the nonmusical goods that it sells are not a hedge against declining record sales. Music, he said, is profitable and by far Ghostly’s biggest product."

Read the rest here.

U-M fellow comes close to living trash-free

Darshan Karwat is a post-doc at the University of Michigan. Aware that the average American generats nearly 1500 pounds of trash a year he set out to minimize his impact... and succeeded, reducing his annual trash output to roughly six pounds.

Excerpt:

"In many ways, though, my life didn’t change much. I had grown up in a humble setting in India, where I was accustomed to consuming as little as possible. I was a member of the People’s Food Co-op in Ann Arbor, where I bought my produce unpackaged. Most of my waste came from food packaging, so anything I could do to limit it reduced my trash and recycling significantly. I bought bread from the bakery, gave up most cheeses and drank milk only when it came in reusable bottles. Even though I seldom bought new gizmos or clothes, I stopped buying them entirely for this project, because I knew creating them, transporting them and selling them at retailers generated plenty of upstream waste. If I thought I really needed something, like a new mug or hoodie, I’d wait a week before buying it. And then I’d wait another week. Turns out I never bought those things, which means I never needed them. I had enough already. Compared with the way so many others live, it wasn’t much of a hardship."

Read the rest here.

Dyson acquires Ann Arbor's Sakti3 for $90M

It's the kind of acquisition many a startup hopes will come true: lithium-ion battery developer Sakti3 was bought by UK vacuum-maker Dyson to the tune of $90 million.

No plans have yet been announced for where the battery production facility will be based but Michigan is a possibility.

Excerpt:

"The $90 million acquisition — first reported by business-news site Quartz — reflects a win for clean-tech investors in Sakti3, including General Motors and Khosla Ventures. Dyson itself had already invested $15 million in Sakti3.

The University of Michigan spinoff company's founder and CEO Ann Marie Sastry will lead development of her technology as an executive for Dyson."

Read the rest here.

Some communities embrace agrihoods (instead of golf courses)

Hey, here's an idea: How about Ann Arbor turn one of its two golf courses into a community farm? Or how about a few of our under-used pocket parks? Nearly 200 communities around the nation are embracing just such an idea.

Excerpt:

"Pushing back against that stereotypical image of suburban living is a growing number of so-called “agrihoods” springing up nationwide. These developments center around a real, functional farm as their crown jewel. According to CivilEats, there are currently about 200 of them nationwide."

Read the rest here.

Pedestrian deaths indicate a need to rethink street design

In Dallas, a city councilman is arguing that we need to stop blaming pedestrian deaths on pedestrians and start looking at how we design or streets.

Excerpt:

"“Blame the pedestrian all you want,” he says. “You’re just going to end up with more fatalities.”

Kingston says that in his central Dallas district there are more people walking and riding bicycles all the time. “It’s the result of urbanization,” he says. “We’re simply having more conflicts with motor traffic.” Street design, however, is not necessarily keeping up with that reality. People often cross mid-block because crosswalks are too far apart. Drivers often travel in excess of the speed limit. Lighting is sometimes inadequate."

Read the rest here.

How planning engineers stifle criticism

There is always a war between what is safe and what is efficient, what is best and what is affordable. So, how does the average citizen confront planning decisions that are skewed in favor of one over the other? Understanding the rhetorical landscape helps.

Excerpt:

"Engineers commonly play off budget and safety against each other, as if they are two dependent variables on a sliding scale. You can spend more and get more safety or you can spend less and get less safety….the choice is yours. ... The notion that we are not able to design streets that are safe unless we have bloated budgets is false. That it is widely believed within the engineering profession anyway reveals a lack of innovation and a certain level of myopic comfort engineers wrongly enjoy.

Read the rest here.

Baltimore brewer pays homage to Ann Arbor rock band

Ann Arbor-based stoner rock group Blue Snaggletooth has a serious fan at Oliver Brewing. The Baltimore brewery has dubbed their latest libation: Blue Snaggletooth Serpent and the King ESB (extra strong bitter).

Excerpt:

Originally, Serpent and the King ESB was only available on tap at the Oliver brewery in Baltimore. Taylor says the brewery was going to pay them a royalty for using Blue Snaggletooth’s name and logo, but the band opted to get paid in bottled beers instead. So Serpent and the King was put into 22-ounce bottles with a label designed by the band’s guitar player Casey O’Ryan.

It will be available in this area only on Saturday in Ann Arbor.

The release party is 9 p.m. at Vault Ultralounge, 219 S. Main St. Admission is free and for $5 guests get a cup of the beer and pizza. The band will have a limited supply of bottles available for sale at $25, which come with a signed silkscreen black light poster for the event.

Read the rest here

Ann Arbor engineer helped expose Volkswagen's diesel deception

It's pretty well known that Volkswagen tried to pull a fast one with its emissions-cheating software. What's less known is that it wasn't regulators who discovered this massive act of corporate fraud but rather a pair of engineers working at a non-profit lab with local roots.

Excerpt:

"Peter Mock of Berlin, Germany, and John German of Ann Arbor, Michigan, work for the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). The organization’s mission as stated at the ICCT website is to “provide first-rate, unbiased research and technical and scientific analysis to environmental regulators.”

Mock became suspicious when test results on diesel-powered vehicles in Europe were inconsistent. The tests were intended to convince European environmental regulators to loosen restrictions on the sale of diesel cars by verifying claims that their engines ran on “clean diesel.” Two of the models tested – the Volkswagen Jetta and Passat – passed emissions tests in the lab, but were still emitting unacceptably high levels of pollutants under real-world driving conditions. Since US clean air standards are higher than those in the EU, Mock contacted his American colleague. Would identical testing on vehicles made for the US market produce the same results?"

Read the rest here.
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