• More than $1.5 million invested in 20 startups piloting their mobility solutions throughout the state since the launch of the PlanetM Mobility Grant program in 2018 • e-Mobility Analytics, Parkofon, PikMyKid and Zown among the latest recipients of the PlanetM Mobility Grant program
LANSING, Mich., February 19, 2020 — Michigan’s mobility ecosystem continues to grow in the new decade with PlanetM, the mobility initiative of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, awarding a fourth round of PlanetM Mobility Grants to four mobility and technology companies. PlanetM Mobility Grants are designed to help mobility companies with the resources needed to deploy their solutions in Michigan, ultimately optimizing the movement of people, goods and/or data to create greater access to mobility solutions.
More than $300,000 in grant funding was awarded this round to address some of the industry’s toughest transportation challenges including gaps in electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, afterschool traffic congestion and curbside management. Since its inception in 2018, the PlanetM Mobility Grant program has provided more than $1.5 million in grant funding to 20 mobility startups looking to test, refine and deploy their technologies in Michigan.
“We are excited and encouraged by the pilots that will be deployed through this round of PlanetM Mobility Grants,” said Charlie Tyson, technology activation manager at PlanetM, the mobility-focused brand and business development program of the MEDC. “We have an opportunity and a responsibility to improve the quality of life for our citizens by solving the transportation hurdles they face. Being at the forefront of the emerging mobility landscape, we’re able to see firsthand how these mobility pilots can significantly impact the lives of those in our communities.”
Meet Our Round Four Recipients:
e-Mobility Analytics ($75,000)
Ann Arbor-based e-Mobility Analytics primary focus is EV solar charging system design, data acquisition and analysis with a specialization in solar charging consultation and advocacy. In partnership with the City of Ann Arbor, e-Mobility Analytics will install their prototype Electric Vehicle Solar Charging Station (EVSCS), which uses solar, battery and grid tied backup for Level 2 service in downtown Ann Arbor, to provide sustainable energy for EV charging and to promote the imminent transition to true zero carbon in electric mobility.
This attractive downtown Ann Arbor installation will offer a highly visible charging point, create public awareness of solar charging and provide invaluable data for the development of solar charging stations around Michigan and the region. The project will employ Michigan-based suppliers, fabricators and skilled installers supporting our state’s economy and the growing electric automotive industry.
“We are honored to have been awarded this auspicious grant from MEDC and the City of Ann Arbor to introduce sustainable charging technology to current and future EV owners in a highly visible and readily accessible location on Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor,” said Jonathan Dreyfuss, CEO of e-Mobility Analytics. “Our company’s vision is to lead in the deployment of clean, affordable and sustainable energy to power our emerging zero carbon transportation future for everyone and everywhere, from urban areas to state parks. Solar EV charging has many benefits, including reducing e-mobility transportation costs for everyone, cleaning up our air, land and water as we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels while creating new economic opportunities in the manufacturing, installation and servicing of these new charging systems. For our company to be located in the region that is the hub of America’s e-mobility transportation future makes this project even more relevant.”
In collaboration with Continental and the University of Detroit Mercy’s College of Engineering & Science, Parkofon will deploy a fully automated student parking on-demand technology (SPOT) on campus. This high-accuracy geo-positioning system minimizes search time for a parking space and has the potential to significantly improve fuel efficiency while eliminating the headache and frustration often associated with campus parking. Paired with the Continental Parkpocket mobile app, the platform automatically assigns the nearest available parking spot when drivers, including EV owners, reach campus, improving the overall commuter experience.
“As the market moves towards vehicle automation, we are excited to deploy our highly accurate in-car location technology in Michigan, in an effort to automate parking and remove outdated permits, meters and parking management techniques,” said Evgeny Klochikhin, CEO of Parkofon. “Commuters will be happy with real-time space availability and associated time and fuel savings.”
Florida-based PikMyKid will expand its school traffic and safety solution in Michigan in collaboration with several rural schools within Mid-Michigan communities, including Carleton, Caro, Hillman and West Branch. PikMyKid’s smart mobility solution for schools ensures the safety of kids, and drives a positive change in their communities by empowering schools with affordable technology. Initial research has shown that schools have consistently observed reduced traffic congestion, increased carpooling among parents and created safer processes for kids to walk home after-school, thus creating healthier and more sustainable school communities. PikMyKid maximizes the socio-economic impact within the school community and improves safety at various levels. As part of this pilot, PikMyKid will be providing a district-wide view for schools to share their benefits, setting a framework for other regions to follow.
“We are excited to bring PikMyKid’s solution to schools in Michigan in partnership with PlanetM and MEDC,” said Pat Bhava, CEO and founder of PikMyKid. “Founded by a passionate group of educators and parents, PikMyKid currently serves schools in more than 42 states and seven countries. We fundamentally believe that school safety should not be a function of its zip code and we are appreciative of this grant initiative to improve access for school districts that may have limited budgets. We want to use this opportunity to help Michigan school districts to drive innovation in student safety and exemplify themselves as mobility friendly schools in their neighborhood.”
As the rise of mobility-as-a-service platforms heat up, Toronto-based Zown will bring its mobility platform technology to Detroit in partnership with the City of Detroit and rideshare providers in Detroit, to improve the efficiency and accessibility of ridehailing services for consumers by tackling 'pick-up confusion', a condition caused by drivers circling repeatedly to find their passengers in high-traffic areas, further contributing to congestion and delays. This pilot project aims to streamline ridehailing pick-ups by designating a unique digital location pin for each trip request, ensuring passengers meet their driver at the optimal place every time. A first-of-its-kind pilot, the data obtained through each trip will then be shared with the City to help plan for curb management and re-zoning, including helping properties integrate more seamlessly with ridehail providers.
"Zown's partnership with the City of Detroit to provide digital curbside management marks the first attempt to truly integrate ridehailing services at the municipal level and ensure upside for passengers, drivers and nearby properties,” said Saleem Ahmad, CEO of Zown. “Our objective is to reduce unnecessary congestion and make ridehailing a more attractive and accessible option for Detroit residents."
About the PlanetM Mobility Grants
The PlanetM Mobility Grants encourage mobility startups and corporations to deploy their technologies in Michigan, or prove out their technology at Michigan's state-of-the-art testing facilities. PlanetM partners with NextEnergy to support project management services for each pilot program. NextEnergy works directly with the selected startups and corporations to establish grant agreement terms, outline each statement of work – including objectives, milestones and a timeline – and oversees the implementation of the pilot by serving as the fiduciary to disperse grant and cost-share funding.
PlanetM is a partnership of mobility organizations, communities, educational institutions, research and development, and government agencies working together to develop and deploy the mobility technologies driving the future. Available to any mobility-focused company or investor, PlanetM is a no-cost, concierge service that connects startups, businesses and communities to Michigan’s mobility ecosystem — the people, places and resources dedicated to the evolution of transportation mobility. Michigan has always been the leader of the automotive industry, and as transportation technologies continue to evolve in amazing ways, Michigan continues to lead the way. Visit PlanetM.com to learn more.