Swedish software company aims to expand Ann Arbor presence

Modelon, a Swedish-based software company with an office in Ann Arbor, is finding success with a "bottom-up" approach that allows everyone to bring innovative ideas to the table.


Modelon was started about nine years ago, and today the company's global operations now employ about 75 people across Europe, Asia, and the U.S. The company creates software tools for "virtual engineering" for a variety of industries.


"Back in the day, you'd build a prototype and test it, and then go back and build a new prototype, and that got to be pretty costly and time-consuming," says David Higbie, Modelon's chief commercial officer. "Using technology like ours, engineers can test out lots of different ideas virtually on a desktop computer, then fine-tune design decisions before they even go to prototyping."


Modelon expanded its footprint into the U.S. with an Ann Arbor office about four years ago. Currently, Modelon's office at 24 Frank Lloyd Wright Dr. in Domino's Farms has five on staff, but Higbie says he hopes to add three more Ann Arbor staffers within a year or two.


He says Ann Arbor made sense as the U.S. hub for Modelon in part because it's a great place to live but also because it's in an automotive technology hub, and the automotive industry is a big part of Modelon's customer base.


"The types of employees we're looking for are hard to find," Higbie says. "They have to have the right technology, engineering, and software development background, and Ann Arbor is a great place to find those people."


The company recently wrapped up a summer event called One Modelon that brings employees from all over the globe to Sweden, a tradition that dates back to when Modelon was founded.


"Back when everyone was in Sweden, you could just talk to someone across the hall, but as the company has grown, they have maintained the commitment to bringing the entire company together as a way to get face-to-face time and building company culture and trust," Higbie says.


That is just one facet of Modelon's "bottom-up" corporate culture.


"Our culture is one where people are really encouraged to test new ideas on their own," Higbie says. "You have an opportunity to do a ton of different things based on your own personal interests and where you can make a contribution."


While employees have flexibility in how they work, the company still keeps a "pretty tight control" on its objectives with a focus on "over-delivering" to the customer, Higbie says.


"It's exciting to be in this industry bringing something unique in terms of both the culture and the technology we've developed," Higbie says.

This piece is part of a series highlighting local business growth in the Ann Arbor area. It is supported by Ann Arbor SPARK.


Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.


Photos courtesy of Modelon.

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