We are thrilled to see Detroit ranked as the #1 emerging startup ecosystem in North America, which speaks to the welcoming environment Detroit offers to entrepreneurs, as well as the funding, local business network, and support resources available. While historically known as a manufacturing center, it’s our transformation to one of the country’s most promising innovation and startup hubs that showcases Detroit’s greatest strengths.
Detroit's tech ecosystem includes major players like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, IBM, and Rocket Mortgage, along with regional offices for LinkedIn, Twitter, and Cisco. The Detroit region is home to headquarters of 18 Fortune 1,000 companies, attracting multinational businesses. But with 1,500 active startups in a wide range of sectors, the Detroit region’s local economy is no longer dominated by large legacy corporations. The size of Detroit’s startup exits has increased significantly in recent years, with seven $100 million+ exits occurring since 2018, including two $1 billion+ exits in Cybersecurity platform Duo Security and electric vehicle company Rivian. In 2019, online sneaker reselling platform StockX joined the unicorn club.
The Michigan Emerging Technologies Fund is designed to expand funding opportunities for technology-based companies, and the Michigan Business Development Program provides economic assistance to businesses for highly competitive projects that create jobs or provide a net-positive return to Michigan. The Techstars Detroit Powered by JP Morgan program is a virtual/hybrid accelerator that aims to provide equitable access, funding, and support to entrepreneurs from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds, offering opportunities across all industries.
The region boasts 98,000 workers in the financial industry and Fintech, and is home to the headquarters of two of the nation’s biggest mortgage lenders. The Big Four accounting firms also all have operations in the region. Autobooks, a successful Fintech startup, has raised a total of $97.8 million in VC funding over six rounds, with its latest round of $50 million in June 2022.
Ecosystem by the Numbers
Detroit's strength in Cybersecurity is bolstered by its automotive industry and the presence of industry-leading companies. Hush, a Cybersecurity startup, was selected for the MissionLink 2023 Accelerator Program. Michigan has also dedicated resources to Cybersecurity, with the governor hosting the annual Michigan Cyber Summit to address industry needs. Michigan's Cyber Partners is a collaborative effort involving various divisions at the State of Michigan, including Michigan Cybersecurity and the Michigan State Police, to enhance Cybersecurity resources and best practices across the state.
Industry 4.0 and Future Technologies
Michigan's Industry 4.0 initiative, launched in late 2020, has reached over 2,120 small manufacturers in the state, providing them with programming, events, training, and technology assessments. Additionally, 24 small manufacturers in Michigan have received a total of $559,005 through the Industry 4.0 Technology Implementation Grant program to support the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies.
Nearby Ann Arbor’s thriving Life Sciences community is fueling Detroit's Life Sciences sub-sector growth, as are the renowned research institutes at the University of Michigan. The region's biotechnology sector, encompassing medical device manufacturing, pharmaceutical development, and service providers, is expanding, attracting investments, and generating employment opportunities. Collaborative initiatives between the University's Medical Innovation Center, Eastern Michigan University's Coatings Research Institute, and industry players are fostering innovation and driving the overall progress of the region.
Reasons to Move Your Startup to Detroit
Investment in Talent
Wayne State University, Detroit Mercy, and nearby Michigan State University provide Detroit with a steady source of educated talent. The city also invests in initiatives to nurture talent, including the Detroit at Work Academy and ProsperoUs Detroit, which offer entrepreneurial training programs. TechTown Detroit's retail boot camp has helped 40 local entrepreneurs open brick-and-mortar stores and over 80 Ecommerce operations since 2013.
The Michigan Business Development Program provides tax credits, property tax abatement, and employer withholding tax capture for startups relocating to or expanding in Michigan. The Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve fund provides tax incentives to state businesses operating in critical sectors, including startups. Local tax abatements are available to qualifying businesses, including startups, that operate within certain zones of Detroit in an effort to spur the city’s economic growth.
The Detroit Region's strategic location and extensive transportation infrastructure provide unrivaled connectivity. Situated on the U.S.-Canadian border, it boasts the busiest North American crossing and plans to enhance cross-border trade with the Gordie Howe International Bridge. With seven interstates, four railroads, seven ports, and 15 airports, including the prominent Detroit Metropolitan Airport, offering global flight connections, the region ensures seamless access.
News from the Ecosystem
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