Mobilizing New Mobility Innovation, Industry Development and Consumer Uptake for the Detroit Region (2014)

Client Organization: 
Ford Motor Company
Client is confirmed: 
Project Location : 
Greater Detroit Area/ SE Michigan
Secondary Client Organization: 
Summary of Project Idea: 

Rapidly-urbanizing emerging markets are increasingly experiencing transportation-related challenges ranging from congestion to air pollution to social inequality.  At the same time, the rise of mobile technology and the increasing role of enterpreneurship has lead to a boom in new mobility innovations that are changing the face of a traditionally highly-regulated industry.  This master's project team sought to develop an understanding of what promotes and inhibits successful entrepreneurial ventures in the new mobility space and how these factors vary across different geographies.  The team focused on case studies from Brazil, China, India, and South Africa.  Based on its findings, the team developed a resource to help entrepreneurs start and grow new mobility ventures that create environmental and social improvements by leveraging mobile phone and internet technologies.  

Skills/Expertise Needed: 

-    Entrepreneurial / new business - trends & approaches, New Technologies / Social Media, Economic / Industry Analysis
-    Market Research
-    Behavior/Communication
-    Networking Skills
-    Urban Planning/ Transportation Planning/ Real Estate
-    GIS Mapping

Secondary Client Confirmed: 
SEAS Program Areas: 
Environmental Policy and Planning
Behavior, Education, and Communication
Sustainable Systems
Professional Career Development Benefits: 

-    Ground floor participation in the development of new approaches, technologies, systems and conceptual frameworks that form the basis of the emerging New Mobility industry
-    Work with pioneers in New Mobility consumer uptake research through UM-SMART
-    Networking and presentation opportunities through Ford, Next Energy, and SMART.

  • Ford Blueprint project and sustainability network links with a wide community of businesses and other partners related to New Mobility innovation and industry development. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to meet and work with highly skilled researchers, planners and engineers within the global auto industry.
  • Next Energy / SMART Entrepreneur Events: NextEnergy provides direct assistance to start-up companies in the commercialization of products and intellectual property in the advanced energy industry. SMART works to advance New Mobility entrepreneurship globally including in Michigan, as well as through the Mobi prize and registry (see Students will get an opportunity to interact with entrepreneurs and business leaders at these events.
  • SMART Events: Students will have the opportunity to meet some of SMART's "Living Lab" partners as well as business forum and entrepreneurs network members at a global network retreat that will be held in Ann Arbor in March 2013. They will also connect with transportation, innovation, and tech transfer related U-M faculty as part of SMART's wide network.
  • Through the above events and networks students will also link with Michigan transportation/planning/ economic development agencies.

- Ford is interested in exploring the changes coming for mobility.  The growth of Mega-cities and global urbanization are driving a diversification of transportation solutions.  The automobile needs to be viewed as one element of a transportation ecosystem and we need to look for new ways to optimize the entire system.  There is not a single "magic bullet" solution. It requires new technologies, new products and new business models functioning in a holistic approach. It will also involve company partnerships and collaboration with governments - all of us working together for a common goal to create new opportunities.

- NextEnergy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 2002 to drive advanced energy investment and job creation in Michigan. Located in Midtown Detroit's innovation corridor, NextEnergy serves as a catalyst for advanced energy technology demonstration and commercialization in the state. Since its inception, NextEnergy has helped to attract more than $1 billion of new investment, including over $150 million generated by programs in which we have directly participated.  This particular project would be organized through NextEnergy's New Market Services unit, which is responsible for all of NextEnergy's industry and venture services related to emerging sectors.

- SMART catalyzes and collaborates to develop new approaches to implementing integrated multi-modal transport through a growing number of "Living Labs," or collaborative on the ground transportation projects, in communities and regions around the world. SMART will draw on these partnerships, resources, and learning that have been generated through the specific areas of focus on connecting the dots, moving money and moving minds, along with parallel work on the trends that drive the global future of transportation. In particular SMART is a pioneer in New Mobility industry cluster development, and in New Mobility consumer uptake.

- Economic Mapping: Students will be exposed to (and possibly contribute to) the development of SMART's new economic mapping technology.

- Students will be introduced to various methods used to conduct consumer behavior analysis.

Funding Sources: 

Ford Motor Company, Next Energy and SMART(University of Michigan) will jointly support the masters Project.

Identify expected products/deliverables: 

- Report on the influence of an interconnected multi-modal system on the consumer's uptake of different transportation modes, services, and technologies.
- Identify the new business models, technologies, products and services that are either existing or are potential markets that need to be tapped in Michigan which can play a key role in developing an integrated mobility system for the region.
- Develop a strategy to make the Detroit region a test bed for these models.

Additional Faculty Advisor(s) and Department(s): 
Auxiliary Advisors: Geoffrey Thun, Taubman School of Architecture & Urban Planning AND Richard Gonzalez, Institute for Social Research.
Contact full name: 
Eric Wingfield
Job title: 
Mobility Strategist
Greater Detroit Area
State or Country: 
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Peter Adriaens, Ross School of Business and Susan Zielinski, SMART
Contact Phone: 
Advisor Confirmed: 
Contact e-mail: 
Additional Faculty Advisor(s) Confirmed: 
Contact information: 
U-M faculty member
Staff member of a potential client organization
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Aaron Desatnik, MBA
  • Therese Miranda, MBA/MS Sustainable Systems
  • Lizzie Reisman, MBA/MS Behavior, Education and Communication
  • Jason Sekhon, MBA/MS Environmental Policy and Planning
  • Sam Shingledecker, MS Sustainable Systems
Project Status: 
Past Project