Michigan Business Delegation Explores Israeli Startup Ecosystem, Cybersecurity Innovation

By Daniel Lai

The Detroit Regional Chamber recently joined 15 organizations across the state for a five-day fact-finding mission on Israel’s booming startup culture and cyber innovation hosted by Deloitte and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.

The mission is part of an ongoing effort to build relationships with key government leaders in the country while also connecting Michigan companies with startups and business accelerators in order to develop collaborative technology solutions to strengthen the state’s leadership in connectivity and next-generation mobility.

In addition to the Chamber, the delegation included representatives from AT&T, ChoiceTel, Consumer Energy, Cornerstone Schools, Crain’s Detroit Business, Downtown Detroit Partnership, General Motors Co., Henry Ford Health System, ITC Holdings Corp., Michigan State Police and The Right Place.

Highlights from the week included:

  • Attending the 2017 CyberTech Conference in Tel Aviv to hear from industry experts in cybersecurity
  • Touring AT&T’s latest innovation center in Raanana, GM’s Advanced Technical Center in Tel Aviv and Israel’s Startup Nation Central, a nonprofit focused on getting innovation in front of leading companies around the world
  • Meeting with Avi Hasson, Israel’s chief scientist
  • Hosting meetings with decision-makers from more than 12 technology companies

Israel has the highest density of tech startups in the world cultivated by highly trained graduates from the military establishment, robust government investment in innovation and STEM education. That public and private synergy is ripe for entrepreneurial growth.

“It is very clear that Israel is a market Michigan must have a close relationship with not only because of the volume, but also the quality of innovation taking place. They have a culture that asks partners, ‘bring us your problems’ – and there are no shortage of challenges in delivering autonomous driving to the world,” said Justin Robinson, the Chamber’s vice president of business attraction.

“The Chamber and MICHauto are committed to further enhancing the connections between our established automotive industry and venture capital community with the technology ecosystem in Israel. Doing so will be a win-win for both of our communities,” he added.

Daniel Lai is a communications specialist and copywriter at the Detroit Regional Chamber. 

Economic Experts: Next-Generation Mobility, Innovation and Education Key Issues to Move Region Forward

With its world-class assets, the Detroit region has an unprecedented opportunity to drive next-generation mobility development. Remaining a leader in the space, however, is not a foregone conclusion. That was a key message Mustafa Mohatarem, chief economist for General Motors Co., laid out during remarks at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s State of the Region luncheon on Jan. 25.

“When auto sales do well around the world, this region does exceptionally well,” Mohatarem said during remarks on national economic trends.

Global auto sales are at an all-time high and growing, including in the United States, Canada and Mexico, according to Mohatarem. However, he said Michigan cannot rest on its laurels.

“If we don’t do the right things, we may find ourselves like Pittsburgh and Youngstown with the steel (industry) — someone else will displace us,” he warned.

“What we need to do in our region to ensure the success of the auto industry is to preserve it. Not in the sense of trying to keep it the same because the industry may look very different in the next few years,” Mohatarem added.

Mohatarem also discussed other key economic indicators for the region, including rising interest rates and low oil prices. He ended his remarks with insight on President Trump’s administration, adding that the initial outlook has some positives, such as cutting corporate tax rates to help boost investments in the United States, and increasing infrastructure spending.

“These are exciting times, positive times – and everyone will not agree with me, but we will see a lot of change,” Mohatarem said.

Mohatarem then joined a panel of regional leaders to discuss the presented State of the Region data. Panelists included: Rip Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation; John Roberts, budget director of the state of Michigan; and Marina Whitman, professor of business administration and public policy of the University of Michigan. The panel was moderated by Devin Scillian, anchor on WDIV-TV 4.

The panelists touched on many topics including trade and transportation. Panelists agreed that education must be a top priority to move the region forward.

“We’ve got to figure out some way to put the kids first and I frankly don’t know how to do that,” Rapson said. “We’ve got to take a moonshot here because we just can’t continue the kind of gradual, incremental stuff.”

View the 2017 State of the Region report here.

For Auto Industry, Attracting and Retaining Millennial Talent Requires an Inclusive Company Culture

By Daniel Lai

The millennial generation is the fastest-rising workforce and will comprise 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, according to PwC. In order for Michigan’s automotive and mobility industry to reap the talent it needs to maintain its leadership in connected and autonomous vehicle development, changing “the company culture” to appeal to millennials is not only necessary, it is essential. That was a key message Marvin Mendoza, director of talent innovation at PwC, delivered to more than 150 automotive industry leaders and stakeholders at the sixth MICHauto Annual Meeting.

“What we’re seeing, regardless of industry, are three megatrends impacting businesses: the rise of the millennial workforce, the rise of the flexible and freelance workforce, and the explosion of mobile and digital technology,” Mendoza said. “To stay ahead of the game, you have to adapt to these trends quickly and strategically.”

According to Mendoza, companies must adjust their culture to appeal to the next generation of talent. In conducting its own study, PwC determined that millennials are highly satisfied working for companies that provide: opportunity for career progression, merit bonuses, training, flexible working schedules, and a sense of doing something “good” for society. Additionally, millennials prefer to receive performance feedback in a real-time face-to-face environment.

Following Mendoza’s presentation, he was joined on stage by Anya Babbitt, founder and CEO of SPLT; Steven Fitzgerald, vice president and chief human resources officer for Visteon Corp.; and David Whitman, senior manager of global talent acquisition strategy and business planning for General Motors Co., for a discussion on how the “culture of making a difference” has positively impacted their business’s growth.

“We see a lot of talent coming back to Michigan,” Whitman said. “We have figured out that if people feel like they are making a difference in a very real way, and if they are happy, they will stay. What better way to capitalize on this than this convergence of the automotive and technology industries?”

In responding to a question from moderator Joann Muller, Detroit bureau chief for Forbes Media LLC, about preparing the next-generation to fill the talent pipeline, Fitzgerald said Michigan universities have stepped up with a plethora of degree programs. However, the automotive industry must not be afraid to look globally.

“There are only 300 million people in the United States trying to fill the demand of a global population of 7 billion people. There’s no way that a country as proportionally small as the United States is to the world can keep up with the talent demand in education if we continue to look solely in our borders,” he said.

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