This month, NextEnergy’s Jim Saber sat down with Charlie Tyson of the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification to discuss the Michigan Mobility Funding Platform and how it can help companies establish themselves in the state.
Jim: Hello Charlie and thank you for agreeing to do this interview with me.
Jim: Let’s kick things off with a quick overview of the MMFP, just in case any of our readers aren’t familiar with the platform.
Charlie: Building upon the success of the PlanetM Mobility Grants, the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME) and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) launched the MMFP to provide grants to mobility and electrification companies looking to deploy their technology solutions in the state of Michigan. Today the MMFP specifically focuses on catalyzing and scaling mobility solutions across three key areas of focus: sustainability, equality, and multimodal transportation. Over time, the platform will evolve to enable Michigan-based organizations (public and private) to launch their own mobility and electrification funding initiatives. And just in case anyone missed it, back in September we announced the first round of MMFP real world deployment grant winners.
Jim: The MMFP is a fantastic example of a state-funded initiative to accelerate the adoption of clean mobility solutions and NextEnergy is proud to be managing the platform for the State of Michigan. And it’s not just great news and outcomes for the State, but also for the companies that apply for funding, right?
Charlie: Absolutely. OFME and NextEnergy work closely with applicants throughout the application process. We have seen firsthand how the MMFP can create lasting benefits for all parties involved.
Jim: Now obviously one of the primary benefits of the MMFP is project funding, but what other benefits have you seen firsthand.
Charlie: Great question. We’ve seen exposure for grant recipients through OFME marketing and communication activities create a lot of value for companies, including press releases, mobility events, and speaking opportunities. I think the biggest benefit for growth through the MMFP comes from the opportunity for applicants to validate mobility solutions for new customers, partners, and investors. We hope it can be a tipping point and the grant funding and project support from OFME can be a catalyst for new partnerships in Michigan.
Jim: I especially appreciate how the MMFP can help applicants to validate solutions and raise capital. Are you able to share some real examples of how this played out?
Charlie: Sure, there are a couple that come to mind. One would be a project through the previous COVID-19 Mobility Solutions grant. Pratt and Miller received a pilot grant to deploy their autonomous and electric disinfecting robot within the Gerald R. Ford International Airport to help combat COVID-19 and restore travel confidence. By validating Pratt and Miller’s new robotic system through this project, it helped solidify additional deployments in the McNamara Terminal at Detroit Metro Airport and in Delta terminals at LaGuardia Airport in New York. Readers can learn more about this success story here.
Another example would be Airspace Link and their project with Aerotropolis and the Michigan Unmanned Aerial Systems Consortium (MUASC). Through a pilot grant in 2019, the company deployed their aerial map and routing system for communities in Southeast Michigan to help manage the increasing use of drones in the airspace. The pilot project helped spur deployments of their technology in communities both inside and outside of Michigan, all leading to the Airspace Link team announcing the completion of a $10-million series A capital raise and allowing them to continue paving the way for the drone economy. Readers can learn more about this success story here.
Jim: It sounds like the existence of a program like the MMFP is a lot more than just the funding it provides.
Charlie: That’s right, Jim. The MMFP exists to help address gap funding for innovative mobility projects. However, the impacts of the MMFP extend far beyond simple access to funding. What the state of Michigan has built, and will continue to improve upon over time, is a platform that helps companies forge partnerships in Michigan which will not only improve how people and goods move, making transportation safer, more efficient, and more sustainable, but also create jobs and economic vitality here in the State of Michigan.
Jim: Charlie, it’s been great having this discussion with you. Thank you for sharing all these insights with NextEnergy’s audience.
Charlie: Thank you again for having me Jim. Can we provide the audience with information on the MMFP application process here?
Jim: Definitely. Please visit the MMFP webpage or feel free to contact me directly at [email protected] for more information on the platform and application process.