Detroit’s Tech, Automotive Leadership Takes Spotlight During Israel Mission Trip

In a follow-up to a January fact-finding mission to Israel earlier this year led by Mark Davidoff, Michigan managing partner at Deloitte, and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, the Detroit Regional Chamber, along with economic development representatives from Oakland County, returned to the country in May to meet with automotive and manufacturing companies looking to expand into the U.S. market.

“Following our fact-finding mission in January, we saw an opportunity in Israel beyond the country’s robust cybersecurity sector to the larger automotive technology landscape,” said Justin Robinson, vice president of Business Attraction for the Detroit Regional Chamber.

“Our Business Attraction program has made a shift to recruit more early-stage automotive technology companies and we are looking to the markets that we believe hold the greatest potential to bring that technology to Southeast Michigan — Israel and Silicon Valley,” he added.

The trip, which took place May 15-19, was timed to coincide with Ecomotion 2017, a worldwide conference focused on promoting knowledge-sharing among companies in the smart transportation sector (pictured).

During the week, the delegation held 25 one-on-one meetings with venture capital companies, automotive accelerators and startups, to glean information on how to best support Israeli companies that have an eye toward the North American market. Primarily, Robinson said companies expressed the need for better connections to OEMs (such as Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co.) and Tier 1 and 2 suppliers.

“It was a great opportunity to listen and understand what we need to be doing as a region to better position ourselves to connect this new startup ecosystem with the established automotive ecosystem in Detroit,” he said.

There are roughly 6,000 startups in Israel today. As more pop up due to the country’s rich talent pool and government support for entrepreneurs, many companies are setting their sights to North America to scale their business quickly, Robinson said.

“Mobility is becoming one of the key areas of focus, which is a perfect opportunity for Michigan,” he said.

For more information on Forward Detroit, contact Marnita S. Harris at or 313.596.0310. To view a full list of investors and past Investor Exclusive content, visit our Investor Resources page.

Tech Startup Lessons from Israel: Entrepreneurs Thrive with Collaboration, Government Support

A robust talent pipeline. Government support for startups. Strong academic and STEM education programs. No fear of failure. These are just a few of the key ingredients that contribute to Israel’s status as a top five global technology startup hub.

In an effort to better understand the Israeli ecosystem of innovation, the Detroit Regional Chamber recently attended a five-day, fact-finding mission to the country led by Deloitte and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. It was held concurrently during Gov. Rick Snyder’s Israel trip to enhance business ties with Michigan.

The delegation included chief information technology officers and executives from AT&TConsumers EnergyGeneral Motors, Henry Ford Health System, and nine additional organizations across the state.

During the week, the delegation met with key decision-makers from 12 leading technology startups and attended the 2017 CyberTech Conference in Tel Aviv to hear from cyber experts from multi-national corporations, startups, private and corporate investors, and venture capital firms. Gov. Snyder provided opening remarks at the Conference (pictured).

The group also met with Avi Hasson, Israel’s chief scientist, and received an up-close look at 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.

Other stops included meetings with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Talpiot Program, an elite training program for students who excel in science and technology; and CYBERBIT, a global leader in cybersecurity and intelligence.

Building Relationships to Maintain Michigan’s Mobility Leadership

In sheer size comparison, Michigan is 11 times larger than the entire country of Israel. Despite that, estimates put Israel’s startup companies at nearly 1,000 in a given year.

Driving this entrepreneurial boom is a combination of Israel’s mandated military service and the resulting talent development, and robust seed funding from the government and venture capital firms for startups.

Public and private collaboration, along with a dedicated source of government funding, is an area where Detroit and Michigan can draw lessons.

“With more than 90,000 engineers, Detroit is also an innovation center with a similar ecosystem. But where our companies are built to drive innovation internally to meet the needs of their own customers, Israel is more externally focused,” said Justin Robinson, vice president of business attraction for the Chamber.

“The trick is, how do we take our innovation culture and flip it around to encourage more collaboration and information sharing, especially as we look to be a leader in solving issues around global mobility moving forward?” Robinson added.

He said one thing is clear:

“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,” he said.

“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,” Robinson added.

For more information on Business Attraction, contact Justin Robinson at or 313.596.0352.

For more information on Forward Detroit, contact Marnita Hamilton at, or 313.596.0310. To view a full list of investors and past Investor Exclusive content, visit our Investor Resources page.

Business Leaders are Called On to Help Heal the Country When the Election is Over

By Kelly Weatherwax

When the election and inauguration are over, we will need to go through a healing process, as the country is more divided than it has ever been during an election, explained Ron Fournier, associate publisher of Crain’s Detroit Business. Fournier moderated a ‘National Election Outlook’ panel discussion between Truscott Rossman’s CEO and Principal, Kelly Rossman-McKinney, and President and Principal, John Truscott.

“There is a lot of anxiety among the vote. Institutions that are supposed to be keeping us together are not adapting to the demographic and economic changes as fast as we are being forced to change. In turn, we as a people are losing faith in institutions,” Fournier said.

People are sensing a huge divide, even while part of our economies are doing really well. Although, with all the change being experienced there is a lot of people still being left behind.

“We all, as business owners, have the power to help heal the country coming out of this campaign – part of it is how employees are treated, some of it is the little things that make people feel appreciated. Now, with the turmoil and the economy involved, a lot of people feel left behind, and we should do what we can to lift people up,” said Truscott.

Pointing out that it is a slower process in getting things done in Michigan because of reforms such as Terminance, Fournier begged the question “How do we fix this?”

“We need to continue to stay engaged long after the election and after the inauguration. The voter out there does not feel like they have the avenue to voice their concern and we have to make sure they know they do have channels. That’s on the legislators to get out and hold town meetings with constituents. I encourage all of you to hold meetings in your town to bring in your congressperson, state legislators to make sure the folks that work for you feel like they have the same access to the political leaders,” said Rossman-McKinney.

The panel was a part of the annual Middle Market CEO Summit, convened by Bank of America, Deloitte and the Detroit Regional Chamber to address issues facing middle market business leadership.

Additional coverage from the Middle Market CEO Summit:

Regional CEOs Tackle Innovation, Cybersecurity and Challenges for the Middle Market

Jeff DeGraff: Don’t Wait for the Next Best Thing to Pass You By, Innovate

Cybersecurity Starts at the Top: Why Middle Market CEOs Must Lead


Regional CEOs Tackle Innovation, Cybersecurity and Challenges for the Middle Market

By Daniel Lai

In today’s fast-paced world of instant gratification, innovation is not always easy but it is necessary if businesses are going to succeed in the marketplace. That was the message that kicked off the annual Middle Market CEO Summit hosted by Bank of America, Deloitte and the Detroit Regional Chamber last Thursday.

“Innovation is not born from freedom, it is born from constraint,” said Jeff DeGraff, professor of business administration at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. “The worst growth strategy for any business is to have an increasing share of a decreasing market. The risk-takers who reimagine their industry, who anticipate and feel their way towards the future will be the ones who survive and thrive in new environments.”

Regardless of size, DeGraff said business leaders can spark innovation among employees by following a few simple steps:

  • Find, develop and connect the best people
  • Establish a sustainable high-performing culture
  • Engage a wide array of expertise and capability
  • Create a collaborative learning environment

The message resonated with the audience of more than 60 CEOs and C-level professionals who gathered at MotorCity Casino Hotel for a half-day Summit focused on issues and solutions for the middle market. Topics ranged from cybersecurity and protecting data from both inside and outside the organization, to the importance of cultivating a strong CEO and CFO relationship.

“(The Summit) is about creating a lasting and influential conversation amongst our middle market leaders on what is needed to grow their companies and the obstacles they may face on that journey,” said Mark Davidoff, Michigan managing partner for Deloitte and Chamber Board member.

Other topics throughout the day focused on the national water infrastructure crisis and how Michigan can lead the way in building healthy communities through public and private collaboration, as well as the 2016 presidential election and its potential impact on business.

In addition to DeGraff, keynote speakers and panelists included: Quicken Loans’ John Fikany, EHIM Inc.’s Mindi Fynke, Deloitte’s Frank Friedman, George Hawkins of D.C. Water, Henry Ford Health System’s Wright Lassiter III, Nexcare Health Systems’ Mike Perry, Walbridge’s John Rakolta Jr., Paul Rodgers of TARDEC, Joan Rose from the Center for Water Sciences, Kelly Rossman-McKinney and John Truscott of Truscott Rossman, Rush Group’s Andra Rush, and Bank of America’s James Scopis.

Additional coverage from the Middle Market CEO Summit:

Business Leaders are Called On to Help Heal the Country When the Election is Over

Cybersecurity Starts at the Top: Why Middle Market CEOs Must Lead

Jeff DeGraff: Don’t Wait for the Next Best Thing to Pass You By, Innovate

Frank Friedman

Chief Operating Officer

frank-friedmanFrank Friedman is chief operating officer of Deloitte, leading the $35-billion network’s operational leaders in helping to drive Deloitte’s global strategy. He is a member of the Executive Committee and chairs the Global Operating Committee, linking strategy, execution, and accountability and aligning Deloitte and its global network of member firms around shared objectives.

Friedman previously served as U.S. chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Deloitte, bridging strategy and operations to ensure world-class operating results for the U.S. firms. He was responsible for evaluating major investments throughout the firm and ensuring adequate capital capacity for all firm needs and led the development of the U.S. firms’ financial strategy, including capital, budgeting, planning, analysis, accounting, partner financial services, taxes, reporting and operations.

With his unique C-suite perspective, he is a frequent commentator on major issues impacting U.S. businesses and the economy, and on global economic and trade topics, and has been featured on Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN Money and Fox Business.