Investing in the Future to Move What Matters

Mentorship Program Pairs Veteran Transportation Industry Experts with Mobility-Focused Entrepreneurs

 Members of the inaugural Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit program work with mentors on a weekly basis to prepare for Demo Day in September.  

Members of the inaugural Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit program work with mentors on a weekly basis to prepare for Demo Day in September.  

In recent years, the transportation landscape has been shaped by a need to become increasingly safe and more eco-friendly with a higher degree of connectivity and the promise of autonomy.  With tremendous engineering challenges ahead, the industry can look to start-up companies with ideas and passion to lead us toward the next incredible solutions. 

This is one of many reasons Dana recently announced its partnership with Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit, a mentorship-driven technology accelerator that will create a Metro Detroit hub for transportation and mobility innovations. Its goal is to bring new technologies to market that address the future of moving people, goods, and services.

At Dana, innovation is in our DNA and a brief history of the company highlights our commitment to operating at the forefront of technology. We’ve come a long way since the fall of 1904, when the future of Dana depended exclusively on the collective ideas and efforts of a young engineer, Clarence Spicer, and his three newly hired employees. They and the tens of thousands of Dana engineers and support staff who followed them rose to the challenge to play an integral role in the future of the motor vehicle industry.
As customers’ needs change, as they always have and always will, Dana employees around the world have continually introduced optimized solutions to meet them. The future will be no different. Our industry is now experiencing one of the largest strategic shifts in transportation history. It will be critical for us to continue to focus on key customer needs in the areas of fuel economy, total cost of ownership, emissions reduction, hybridization, emerging markets, systems integration, mobility, and software integration.
Techstars is a global ecosystem that empowers entrepreneurs to bring new technologies to market wherever they choose to build their businesses. With 18 mentorship-driven accelerator programs worldwide, Techstars exists to support the world’s most promising entrepreneurs throughout their lifelong journey. Techstars provides access to more than 5,000 founders, mentors, investors, and corporate partners, allowing entrepreneurs to accelerate the pace of innovation and do more, faster. Techstars makes entrepreneurship more accessible by providing access to capital, guidance, marketing, business development, customer acquisition, and recruitment.

The 10 finalists for Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit include companies harnessing new technology for ride sharing apps, safety and maintenance, fleet management, logistics, and energy use in mobile applications. As corporate sponsors, Dana joins a host of other global technology leaders including Ford, Honda, Verizon, McDonald’s, and others in mentoring these startups.

Four Dana mentors will be available to the finalists over the course of the program. Dana’s Don Remboski, vice president of innovation; Rob Smithson, vice president of engineering – manufacturing technology assessment and commercialization; Scott Smith, senior engineer of research and development; and I have signed up to mentor the class of 2015.

We’re working with the start-up companies on a weekly basis and have the opportunity to share some of the real-world challenges that companies like Dana, our customers, and our customers’ customers face. Through this mentorship initiative, we will help the companies to refine and focus both their technologies and business models in order to maximize the impact that their solutions will have on the people, the market, and the future of mobility.

Recognizing the importance of startups and new technologies, along with Dana’s role as a supplier to Detroit-area transportation pioneers, we were drawn to Techstars Mobility as a natural extension of our foundation in the Detroit transportation community. The speed of execution and the level of innovation that exist in the startup space, coupled with the resources and wisdom from experienced industry veterans, give both the mentors and their entrepreneurial partners an opportunity to create something big for the future.

This is the first year for Techstars in the Motor City, and Dana has committed to supporting the program for the next three years. Both the Detroit area and the auto industry itself were built on the same entrepreneurial spirit that helped Clarence Spicer build Dana into what we are today. We want to support greater Detroit’s resurgence and help to foster the future of transportation. Working side by side with the young innovators who will shape the future of our industry, we gain an opportunity to strengthen our relationships and become better prepared to anticipate, meet, and exceed impending needs.

I am very excited about Dana’s participation in this program and the opportunity to leverage our startup heritage while becoming thought partners with these startups as we collaborate to build the mobility infrastructure of the future.

We’d like to hear your thoughts.

  •  How important is entrepreneurship to the future of transportation?
  • How will the success of Detroit’s entrepreneurial renaissance affect mobility-focused companies? 
  • What new technologies will shape the future of the industry?
  • Has your company mentored a start-up venture? How did each side of that relationship benefit? 

Published by Carrie Wiggins


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