Canadian Manufacturing

Magna, Ford helping launch Detroit-area tech mentor program

Aurora, Ont.-based Magna working with Ford, Verizon Telematics to launch Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit program



TROY, Mich.—Magna International Inc. is partnering with Ford Motor Co., Verizon Telematics, Inc. and Techstars, a mentor-driven seed stage investment organization, to launch a program aimed at giving startup companies the support required to get off the ground.

The Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit program provides successful applicants with financial assistance, business training and access to corporate experts who will act as mentors

The program’s goal is to create a Detroit-area hub for transportation and mobility innovations, bringing new technologies to market that incorporate mobile devices, wireless technology and cloud data resources to provide a safer and more enjoyable driving experience.

“We have a history of taking great ideas and developing them from innovation to industry standard,” Magna’s chief technology officer, Swamy Kotagiri, said in a statement.

“We also know that great thinking can happen outside our four walls and we are open to working with potential inventors, entrepreneurs and startups to help bring ideas to market. Helping bring TechStars to Detroit, the Motor City, provides Magna a unique opportunity to work closely with a new potentially untapped generation of innovators.”

Applications for Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit are now open, with a closing date of March 15, 2015.

The first class of 10 startups will receive as much as US$120,000 in funding, plus three months of training in business development, customer acquisition and effective executive recruitment, along with guidance from top business mentors.

Magna, Ford and Verizon Telematics are committing US$3 million in funding plus mentors and other resources to support participating startups.

Several Michigan-based venture capital firms will provide guidance and potentially follow-on funding to participants.

“We’re excited to bring our proven accelerator model and extensive network of mentors, founders and corporations to Detroit to help support the region’s renaissance, being driven by all of the recent startup and VC activity,” said David Cohen, managing partner of Techstars.

“Companies like Magna are at the forefront of mobility and transportation and we look forward to working with them to help the next generation of technology companies make a real impact on the market.”

The program will kick off in early summer next year and conclude on Sept. 10, 2015.

A new class of 10 startups will be selected for the program every three months for three years.

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