Transportation tech races ahead in the Midwest

Happy Friday afternoon, readers. Have you thought about how you’re going to get around this weekend? You might use technology that emerged right here in the Midwest, where transportation and mobility tech is an increasingly hot sector. We start today’s tech headlines with some transportation tidbits.

Today’s headlines:


  • Michigan-based Consumers Energy announced that its first four PowerMIDrive electric vehicle fast-charging stations are operating across the state. Up to 30 more stations should be operational by early next year.
  • Also in Michigan, the Detroit Free Press chronicles how former employees of the big three U.S. automakers are finding new careers at transportation tech startups, especially those advancing autonomous and electric vehicles.
  • The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation will receive $2.7 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop and test high-performance carbon fiber technologies to make composite fuel tanks for vehicles powered by natural gas or hydrogen. Projects in Michigan and Nebraska are among those to benefit from the funding.
  • Ohio State University and Northwestern University will receive a portion of the $5 million in funding that the U.S. Department of Transportation is granting to research centers that address transportation challenges. Ohio State will focus on automation and Northwestern will focus on communications technology and e-commerce. Four recipients were chosen from a field of 67 applicants.
  • A new paper from Argonne National Laboratory documents how transportation air emissions and water use would reduce over the next 30 years with a greater use of biofuels added to the U.S. fuel mix and the development of more engines designed to use these fuels.
  • This week Chicago added new pedal-assist, battery-electric bikes to its Divvy bikeshare fleet. E-bikes help to expand bikeshare access to people with different riding abilities.
***SPONSORED LINK: The Midwest Building Decarbonization Coalition is hiring a Manager of Community Engagement and Equity. Join the team to play a leadership role in developing an equitable and diverse Midwestern coalition to advance affordable homes and businesses that are free of climate change-causing air pollution.***

🤖 ROBOTS: University of Michigan researchers used principles from the origami art form to guide their development of new microbots. The tiny robots have a plethora of medical, environmental, and infrastructure applications.

Microbot at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor campus. Image credit: Robert Coelius/University of Michigan Engineering, Communications & Marketing

🏃 ACCELERATOR: Cincinnati-based Flywheel social impact startup accelerator is creating a new program called SustainableCincy for early-stage, sustainability-focused startups, reports Cincy Inno.


  • The U.S. Department of Energy is providing a collective $97 million to 33 projects that improve performance and cut costs for bioeconomy technologies: biofuels, biopower, and bioproducts from biomass and waste resources.
  • A graduate student at Milwaukee’s Marquette University is one of the researchers selected for an investment fellowship from Virginia-based Molecular Sciences Software Institute, reports Wisconsin Inno. His goal is to release a software package for molecular modeling entrepreneurs, which could have energy applications. Projects at Purdue University and the University of Chicago also were chosen.

💻 VIRTUAL EVENT: The inaugural virtual summit will take place September 8-10. It aims to match Midwest startup founders with venture capital and angel investors.

Which Midwest tech entrepreneurs or thought leaders should I feature in Centered? Reach out with news tips, press releases, and feedback via email to or connect on LinkedIn and Twitter @centereddottech.

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