The Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization (MTRAC) Innovation Hub for Advanced Transportation is a statewide program that funds translational research applications in advanced transportation materials, robotics and autonomy, sensors, electric vehicle drivetrain/propulsion, software/controls/data, and advanced manufacturing processes. The mission of this program is to advance transportation technologies that address future, or poorly met market needs.

Since 2014, U-M has housed the MTRAC Advanced Transportation program and accelerated the commercial development of mobility projects. The program expanded to a statewide innovation hub in 2016, and joins a series of specialized statewide commercialization programs with in-depth domain expertise in specific areas of research. The program reinforces State of Michigan’s Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF), the MEDC and U-M’s commitment to use entrepreneurship as a catalyst for economic growth in the State and beyond. The program is open to all institutions of higher education, hospital systems, and non-profit research centers in the State of Michigan.

This hub is run jointly by the U-M Center for Entrepreneurship and the U-M Office of Tech Transfer, in partnership with Michigan Economic Development Corporation. 


Funding areas include: mobility solutions; robotics / autonomy sensors, software; electric vehicle drivetrain technology; advanced transportation materials and manufacturing processes. Projects with limited commercial applications are outside the mission of the program.


October 1, 2018      Kickstart Award RFP Opens
October 5, 2018      Intro to Customer Discovery Kickoff  (Optional. See below.)
October 19, 2018      Intro to Customer Discovery Mid-Point
October 31, 2018      Kickstart Award RFP Closes @ 11:59PM
November 2, 2018      Intro to Customer Discovery Finale 
November 21, 2018      Kickstart Awardees Announced
January 1, 2019      Kickstart Award Funding Cycle Begins
January 7, 2019      Main Award RFP Opens
March 15, 2019      Main Award RFP Closes @ 11:59PM
June 7, 2019      Main Award Finalist Presentations
August 1, 2019      Main Award Funding Cycle Begins


U-M CFE offers entrepreneurial training sessions to improve and refine the project design and final presentation. The intent of these training opportunities is to assist faculty researchers in understanding the nuances that make commercialization efforts different from other research projects they have been involved with.


Participation in I-Corps Intro to Customer Discovery (ICD) training has proven to increase the likelihood of an MTRAC award by 3X. 

October 5, 2018      ICD Kickoff
Week of October 8      Office Hours
October 19, 2018      ICD Mid-point
Week of October 22      Office Hours
November 2, 2018      ICD Finale


The purpose of these workshops is to improve your pitch presentation to the MTRAC Oversight Committee as well as future potential investors or partners.

May 17, 2018      Session 1: Storytelling
May 24, 2018      Session 2: Milestone Development
May 31, 2018      Session 3: Practice Pitch 
     Future dates will be announced soon. 


What kind of projects will be funded?
The MTRAC Advanced Transportation Innovation Hub  is focused on commercializing technologies related to advanced transportation. The projects should include unique intellectual property as evidenced by an invention disclosure on file with the university’s office of Tech Transfer. A key element in the project selection is demonstration that the technology has the potential to fulfill an unmet need in the market of commercial significance. PI’s should be able to clearly describe a path to commercialization.
Who will determine what projects are funded?
The MTRAC Transportation Oversight Committee assists in project selection, awards, mentoring and oversight. The committee is comprised of  advanced transportation business and market experts, venture capitalists and successful entrepreneurs.
What further role will the MTRAC Transportation Oversight Committee play?
In addition to reviewing and selecting proposal awards, members of the MTRAC Transportation Oversight Committee and their network of colleagues will serve as an informal mentorship role to research teams as their projects progress.
What is the process for submitting proposals?
The call for proposals begins annually in early January and are typically due in February. Applications are then reviewed by the Oversight Committee with oral presentations scheduled for early June. Awards are announced within a few days and projects commencing in the July/August timeframe.
What are the selection criteria?
Each proposal will be evaluated on the combination of IP, market and commercialization potential, scientific merit, potential impact on the transportation industry, and the willingness of the PI to engage in commercialization activities. After review and scoring by the Oversight Committee, researchers will then be invited to an oral presentation. Presentations will then be scored and awards made to the project with the highest commercial potential. All presenters will be given feedback for use in future applications.
What other Innovation Hubs exist for funding?
In addition to applying for MTRAC Transportation funding, researchers may also apply to other MTRAC Innovation Hubs in Michigan:

MTRAC Innovation Hub for Life Sciences at University of Michigan
MTRAC Innovation Hub for Advanced Applied Materials at Michigan Tech
MTRAC Innovation Hub for AgBio at Michigan State University

If you are interested in being connected with the other Innovation Hubs directly, please contact Divya –


Eric Petersen

Eric Petersen

Program Director

Lora Stevens

Lora Stevens

Program Specialist

Divya Patil Hangargekar

Divya Patil Hangargekar

Technology Development Specialist


2017 – 2018 

High Frequency Radar for Automotive Autonomous Applications
Sub-millimeter-wave radar system with superior detection resolutions, wide scanning range and minimal size, weight and power consumption

Principal Investigator: Kamal Sarabandi, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

High-Performance Coatings for Engine Cylinder Bores
Process to deposit diamond-like coatings onto the inner surface of cylinder bores in order to reduce friction and resultant fuel consumption

Principal Investigator: Thomas Schuelke and Qi Hua Fan, Michigan State University

Enhanced Object Recognition LIDARs for Robotics
A system to compliment the distance ranging of LIDARs with fast and accurate object recognition, which will enable LIDAR point clouds to be efficiently translated into object semantics.

Principal Investigator: Nicholas Kotov, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Multi-Material 3D Printing
Method which integrates electrical assemblies into components through micro-additive manufacturing

Principal Investigator: Kira Barton, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Sensor Fusion & Cognitive Computing Solution for Autonomous Driving
Reduced computing power system that converts raw sensor inputs into highly compressed “cues” to enhance the accuracy of real-time decision making tasks such as trajectory prediction and multi-object tracking

Principal Investigator: Zhengya Zhang, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Variable Coupling Wireless Power Transfer System
Wireless power transfer system that achieves high efficiency at a wide range of positions and distances between transmitter and receiver

Principal Investigator: Amir Mortazawi, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

YOWP: Your OWn Planner
Optimal travel planning search engine which produces lower costs at minimal effort for given constraints and preferences

Principal Investigator: Barzan Mozafari, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor


2016 - 2017

Automated Ergonomic Risk Assessment System for Manual Works
A computer vision-based posture analysis that can quantitatively evaluate the level of ergonomic risk workers face at dangerous or injury-prone job sites.

Primary Investigator: SangHyun Lee, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

CNC Knitting Technology
Technology allowing manufacturers to produce lightweight materials that are documented into a design database to create hybrid textile compositions reducing costs and steps in production.

Primary Investigator: Henry Sodano, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

YOWP: Your Own Planner
Optimal travel planning search engine which produces lower costs at minimal effort for given constraints and preferences

Principal Investigator: Barzan Mozafari, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

Solid State Batteries
The mapping of the energy and power capabilities of Solid State Batteries (SSB) and validating the ability to meet the requirements of potential early customers.

Primary Investigator: Jeff Sakamoto, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

2015 - 2016

Elegus Technologies
A new generation of high capacity, high discharge rate batteries requires battery separators capable of withstanding harsh operating conditions (i.e. high currents).

John Hennessy – CEO, Co-Founder   |   Long Qian – CFO, Co-Founder   |   Siu On Tung – CTO, Co-Founder
Principal Investigator & Co-Founder: Nicholas Kotov, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Durable Railway Ties
Developing a durable concrete railroad tie is based on an innovative materials called Engineered Cementitious Composite (ECC), popularly known as “bendable concrete,” solves the cracking of normal concrete.

Principal Investigator: Victor Li, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Ceramic Batteries LLC
Developing new electrode structures and manufacturing techniques to incorporate Lithium (Li)-conducting ceramic electrolytes into solid-state batteries.

Principal Investigator: Jeff Sakamoto, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

AirMetrics Analytics
Developing an automated ultrasound inspection system that will provide comprehensive Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic airframe inspection, data management, and analytics

Principal Investigators: Ed Olson & Ryan Eustice, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Enertia Microsystems
The Birdbath Resonator Gyroscope (BRG) is a navigation-grade MEMS gyroscope that has enough accuracy to allow cars to self-navigate without relying on Global Positioning System (GPS) signals and with a positional error of less than 10 centimeters.

Principal Investigator: Khalil Najafi, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Helping companies and researchers sequence whole human genomes 48x faster than conventional next-generation sequencing pipelines saving on computation costs with a faster throughputs.

Mehrzad Samadi – CEO & Co-Founder   |   Ankit Sethia – CTO   |   Principal Investigator: Scott Malhke, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Developing a durable and transparent icephobic coating that can be used to eliminate ice adhesion on an automobile’s body or windshield.

Principal Investigator: Anish Tuteja, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

2014 - 2015

Movellus Circuits

Developing a new design methodology and innovative digital architectures for clock generators. These architectures will be implemented using digital design tools, resulting in a 5x reduction in design time and 15x in the silicone area. This will lead to lower costs and a reduction in the number of power clock generators.

Dr. Muhammad Faisal – CEO & Co-Founder   |   Dr. Jeffrey Fredenburg – VP of Engineering & Co-Founder   |   Principal Investigator: David Wentzloff, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Bamboo Fiber Composite Sheets 

Principal Investigator: Jack Hu, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor


Principal Investigator: Kang Shin, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Power Split Hybrid Powertrains

Principal Investigator: Huei Peng – Ann Arbor


Alan Amici, TE Connectivity

Michael Barry, BASF

Sara Blackmer, RAVE Computer

Adrian Fortino, Mercury Fund

Patti Glaza, Invest Detroit

Brett Hinds, Ford Motor Company

Rajesh K. Malhan, Denso International America, Inc.

Dean Massab, Roush Enterprises

Kushal Narayanaswamy, GM

Clay Phillips, MI-SBDC

Bryce Pilz, University of Michigan

Hamid Servati, ServoTech Industries

Khaled Shahwan, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Volker Sick, University of Michigan

Chris Stallman, Fontinalis Partners