NEI Story Quick Facts
Grants: BANSEM - TechTown, Immigrant Credentialing and Licensing Program, Sustainable Water Works, Sustainable Water Works-Planning Grant, Sustainable Water Works-Planning Grant Extension, TechTown Build Out, TechTown Leader Capacity - Project Manager, TechTown Operational Sustainability, TechTown-Kaufmann Entrepreneurial Program
Grant Amount Total: $14,220,000
Grant Period: 7/10/2009 - 2/1/2014
I had a safe and secure environment, but I had to step into entrepreneurship to make a difference.
- Omer Kiyani, Sentinl Corporation
When you run out of room to grow, you’re doing something right. That’s why TechTown, Detroit’s business growth center, has renovated its facility at 440 Burroughs, and is participating in planning efforts for the city’s Innovation District. The idea? Create a hotbed of innovation, a dwelling for serendipitous encounters, and a catalyst for the redevelopment of the broader district – attracting entrepreneurs, creatives, technologists, academics, influencers, innovators and beyond.
TechTown’s core programs – Labs Venture Accelerator, DTX Launch Detroit, Blocks, Retail Boot Camp and SWOT City – are all working wonders in helping entrepreneurs get their concepts off the ground. “We’re trying to show Detroiters that entrepreneurship is a pathway to independence,” says Leslie Smith, president and CEO of TechTown. “We are working with our partners in Midtown and downtown to convert this energy and activity into jobs.”
The grants to TechTown have been some of the most successful and visible that the New Economy Initiative has made. NEI has been the largest stakeholder in TechTown since the two began their partnership in 2008, and it has yielded some pretty remarkable results.
Omer Kiyani transformed a personal tragedy into the inspiration for a product that will spare others of the same misfortune. Omer was shot in the face as a young man and he knew he was lucky to survive. He also knew that there was something he could do to help prevent gun related tragedies that result in the injuries and deaths of thousands of people each year.
He became a safety engineer and designed the IDENTILOCK, a device that uses fingerprint identification technology to keep guns out of the wrong hands, while still allowing easy access to the owner. Omer's company, Sentinl, participated in TechTown's Venture Accelerator program, speeding the IDENTILOCK product along its path from concept to market. Soon, the product will be manufactured right here in Michigan and will begin saving lives and preventing tragedies.
SIB Medical Technologies
Sagor Bhuiyan and Adham Aljahmi are entrepreneurs working to commercialize a novel medical sample device that was developed and patented at Wayne State University. This is pretty impressive considering that the two are only in their junior year of college. TechTown connected Sagor and Adham to the technology, which could simplify and improve the stool sample collection and preservation process for colon cancer testing, for concept and market validation. It later assisted with the identification and connection to potential clients – from doctors, to hospitals, to medical distributors.