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University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships
University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships

MTRAC Advanced Transportation Innovation Hub

  • New RFP cycle will open in November 2024

The Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) for Advanced Transportation Innovation Hub is a statewide program supporting translational research projects with high commercial potential, with the ultimate goal of launching new technologies into the mobility and transportation sectors. Innovators from all public institutions of higher education, hospital systems and non-profit research centers in the state of Michigan are eligible to submit proposals for grant funding consideration. 

The program offers early-stage funding opportunities through the MTRAC Advanced Transportation annual grant program. Since the inception of the program, over 120 proposals have been submitted with 74 projects funded, resulting in 26 startup companies and achieving over $96 Million in follow on funding (equity and grant). Four key areas of support are provided through the one-year program for awardees:

  • Advance early-stage translational research transportation/mobility technology development milestones for commercialization 
  • Advance market adoption readiness to meet industry/market needs
  • De-risk technology development path
  • Provide high-touch support for University researchers and their teams

MTRAC Advanced Transportation is industry agnostic and can apply to mobility and transportation technologies across air, sea, land, infrastructure and space. Funded projects must be related to and have an initial commercial application in transportation and/or mobility. 

The program offers initial support for proposal development, pitch preparation and initial market research. Awarded projects go on to receive a one-year grant and resources that support the commercialization milestones with connections to industry partners, coaching from the MTRAC Team which includes mentors, licensing professionals and Industry and Investment Advisory Board members.

The MTRAC Advanced Transportation Innovation Hub is part of Innovation Partnerships at the University of Michigan. It has a 2023 operating budget of $1.5M with half of the funds coming from the State of Michigan’s Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) and the remainder coming from participating institutions. The program reinforces the commitment of the MSF, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and U-M to entrepreneurship as a dynamic catalyst for economic growth, allowing for greater collaboration and ultimately increasing the number of start-ups, jobs, industry licenses, and investment for Michigan.

MTRAC Advanced Transportation Funding Opportunities

The award will result in a 12 month grant that supports technical and commercial milestones approved by an Oversight Committee consisting of industry and investment professionals. The program aims to accelerate new high-tech solutions with high commercial value to serve the mobility and advanced transportation industries and is agnostic to transportation mode; land, sea, air, space, etc. The program is open to researchers at all public institutions of higher education, hospital systems and non-profit research centers across the state of Michigan. In addition to matching funds, available support for projects includes mentors-in-residence, leaders from industry with a wide range of sector expertise, venture capital experts and the MTRAC commercialization team. The program offers two funding levels: Kickstart and Mid-Stage.

Start your application process early and utilize MTRAC program support provided for proposal development. Awarded project teams are supported throughout the project by industry experts, mentors and investors. Project teams receive ongoing feedback/support on commercialization milestones and funding opportunities.

Funding areas include and are not limited to:

  • Electrification, grid & battery charging and recycling technology
  • Transportation Infrastructure
  • Aerospace/Space
  • Semiconductor
  • Rail/Fleet
  • Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)
  • Manufacturing Solutions – additive/subtractive, robotics, plant operations
  • Supply Chain/Logistics Solutions
  • Control Systems and Sensors/Connectivity
  • Renewable Energy/Circular Economy/Sustainability/Wind/Solar
  • Vehicle materials


Kickstart Early-Stage Funding

Kickstart funding is available up to $50K (including match) for initial testing of new technology as part of the early stage of commercialization such as the generation of data for a prototype, patent application or other work that could provide a strong foundation for a mid-stage grant proposal.

Kickstart Early-Stage Funding Award Timeline
New RFP cycle will open in November 2024

Mid-Stage Funding

Mid-stage funding is available for projects over $50,000 and up to $200,000 (including match).

Mid-Stage Funding Award Timeline
New RFP cycle will open in November 2024

For more information contact:

Denise Graves
Commercialization Program Director, MTRAC Transportation

Phone: 734-936-5304

Oversight Committee

The oversight committee consists of industry and investment experts who will provide consultation and mentoring to awarded teams.

Ben Cohen
Forvia Hella
Hella Ventures

Stefon Crawford
GM Ventures

John Davis
Ford Motor Company

Jay Ellis

Paul Fanson, Ph.D.
Toyota Motor Corporation

Don Manfredi
University of Michigan

Bradford Orr
University of Michigan

Clay Phillips

Bryce Pilz
University of Michigan

Lee Rawlings
Invest Detroit

Chris Stallman
Fontinalis Partners

Manny Stockman
Osage University Partners

Jennifer Tisdale, CEO

Gian Vergnetti
Enertech Capital


Subject-Matter Experts

Brian Cardwell
Cooper Standard

Melanie Connolly
Cooper Standard

Rachel Dreikosen

Cindy Hupfel
Tata Technologies

Mark Ignash
Office of Defense & Aerospace Innovation

Mike Marchand
Michelin (retired)

Alejandro Plazas
Eaton Energy Systems

Steven Sliger
Tata Technologies

Erin Spring



Ryan Michael
Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME)

Michele Mueller
Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT)

Greg Stevens

Marvin Yates
National Security Innovation Network (NSIN)