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ProNAi Therapeutics lands $59.5M in Series D funding

ProNAi Therapeutics isn't exactly hurting for money these days thanks to a $59.5 million Series D financing round it announced this week.

The biotech startup is developing a cancer-fighting drug called PNT2258. The drug is currently in clinical trials, which should take 3-5 years to get FDA approval.

"We're going to be using the majority of our funds for clinical trials," says Mina Sooch, co-founder & CEO of ProNAi Therapeutics. "We hope to treat many patients with the funds, probably a few hundred."

The Plymouth-based startup, which also has an office in Kalamazoo, describes PNT2258 as a drug that utilizes a proprietary DNA interference technology to block a key oncogene BCL2 that then signals cancer cells to die. It is currently in the midst of Phase II clinical studies of patients with relapsed or treatment refractory non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, including those with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, Richter’s transformation, and follicular lymphoma.

ProNAi Therapeutics is 10 years old and employs a staff of nine employees and one intern. It has hired three people over the last year, including professionals in research & development, finance and administration. Proceeds from the Series D round will be used to continue to build out the company's team, along with supporting drug manufacturing and advancing development of preclinical drug candidates in ProNAi Therapeutics' portfolio.

Source: Mina Sooch, co-founder & CEO of ProNAi Therapeutics
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

iDashboards hires 18, looks to add 6 more positions

Troy-based iDashboards has been a growing business on the move in recent years. The software firm moved to a new 20,000-square-foot office last summer and is expanding its space by another 7,500 square feet.

"We have moved three times since I have been here," says Jenna Ryberg, human resources manager for iDashboards. "Now we're in a space where we can expand quickly."

Which means more hires. Lots of hires. The 10-year-old company has hired 18 people over the last year, expanding its staff to 67 employees. Four more employees are set to come onboard in early May and the firm has six open positions right now.

"We want to continue adding people," Ryberg says, continuing, "by the end of the year we should have 100 employees at the Troy location."

IDashboards creates real-time interactive computer dashboards for businesses. The personalized dashboards analyze, track and organize a wealth of data into critical informational tidbits for companies.

The firm's cloud and enterprise divisions have spearheaded its overall growth of 15 percent in the last year. It is aiming for a 25-percent revenue increase this year.

Source: Jenna Ryberg, human resources manager for iDashboards
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Mango Languages adds 12 jobs, looks to expand into new sectors

Mango Languages is taking on new sectors after it cornered the first market it aimed for, meaning more hires at the Farmington Hills-based business.

The 7-year-old business develops language education courses. It started out making sales to libraries and became a leader in that space over the last year. It now has a catalogue of products that teach 60 languages, ranging from Spanish to Biblical Hebrew to Pirate.

"Pirate is genius," says Roberto Valdez, marketing director of Mango Languages. "It gets kids excited about learning a second language."

The company has hired a dozen people over the last year, including professionals in marketing, human resources, computer programing and product development. It currently employs 50 people and has three open positions in entry-level marketing and customer advocacy.

"We're growing exponentially now," Valdez says. "We are hiring quite a bit. We are averaging a hire a month."

And Mango Languages is working to expand into new sectors, such as higher education and corporate education.

"It's a very exciting time," Valdez says. "We have had a good amount of success in the library sector and now we’re looking for some new areas to grow."

Source: Roberto Valdez, marketing director of Mango Languages
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Molina Healthcare to invest $20M to expand, create 462 jobs

Oakland County's economy is more than diverse these days, especially after Molina Healthcare announced a multi-million-dollar investment in Troy.

The healthcare services company plans to invest $20.3 million over the next few years to expand its operations in Troy and Detroit, creating an expected 462 new jobs in the process. The Troy facility will receive $16 million of that investment, which is projected to create 337 jobs.

"It's a great win," says Irene Spanos, director of economic development & community affairs for Oakland County. "We have been very successful in getting small- and medium-sized life sciences companies to move to Oakland County. To get a big company like Molina Healthcare to create hundreds of jobs here is a big win."

Spanos adds that Oakland County’s Medical Main Street program, which markets Oakland County to healthcare, life science research and medical device manufacturing companies, has helped create 5,400 jobs in the last four years. More than 100,000 people are employed by firms that fit under the Medical Main Street umbrella.

Molina Healthcare, which is based in California, provides health services to individuals and families who receive their health care through Medicaid, Medicare and other government funded programs. The firm set up a subsidiary in Michigan, Molina Healthcare of Michigan, in Troy in 2000. For information on openings at Molina Healthcare, click here.

Source: Irene Spanos, director of economic development & community affairs for Oakland County
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Design Source Media moves to bigger space in Warren

Design Source Media is moving from Sterling Heights to a bigger space in Warren, which will help accommodate its growing staff.

The website design firm has hired two people over the last year, a copy writer and technology consultant. It’s also looking to hire a new web designer. The 2-year-old firm currently employs nine people.

Prompting that expansion is the firm’s growth into creating websites for new industries. It has traditionally done work for landscaping and construction firms. It is now aiming to do more work for athletes, sports teams and manufacturers.

"We want to understand that industry (manufacturing) better," says David Lee, president of Design Source Media.

The firm has also spent the last year refining its business practices, making them more customer-friendly.

"The client knows exactly what phase we're at in the web-development process," Lee says, "and what steps need to be taken next."

Source: David Lee, president of Design Source Media
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Computer Networking Center shifts to corporate tech education

Computer Networking Center has made a shift with the economy in the last few years, which has allowed it to attract new customers and add staff.

The Livonia-based company has specialized in IT education since 1998. In recent years it has made its money with grant-based education programs from government agencies, focused on helping retrain workers for jobs. In the last two years it has migrated over to more corporate education.

"A lot more people are back to work these days, which is good," says Sunil Ajwani, manager at Computer Networking Center.

The firm is leveraging a partnership with Automation Alley's Technical Talent Development Program that helps bring more tech education to local companies looking to expand. Hewlett Packard's office in Pontiac was one of the first companies to take advantage of it last year.

"That was the first major company to come to us from Automation Alley," Ajwani says. "They liked us so much they asked us to teach the class there."

Computer Networking Center is now working with 24 companies through Automation Alley's Technical Talent Development Program. That allowed the firm to hire another educator, growing its staff to five employees.

Source: Sunil Ajwani, manager at Computer Networking Center
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Eberspaecher Exhaust Technology adding 100 jobs in Brighton

Eberspaecher Exhaust Technology plans to hire hundreds of people in Metro Detroit, starting with a 100-person expansion of its Brighton facility.

"They're being hired right now," says Doug Swick, president of Eberspaecher Exhaust Technology. "We're well into the hiring phase."

The Novi-based company has filled a majority of those 100 new positions in Brighton. It has also hired 125 people at its Novi facility in the last two months. The global Tier 1 automotive manufacturer is sinking $122 million into expanding its Metro Detroit operations. The investment is expected to create 545 jobs over the next five years.

The company specializes in the development and manufacturing of exhaust systems. It is currently working to expand its Brighton operations, tripling the square footage to 110,000, as part of an expansion brokered by the Michigan Economic Development Corp and Ann Arbor SPARK.

"It will be a one-stop shop for commercial vehicle exhaust design," Swick says.

Eberspaecher Exhaust Technology is also evaluating potential locations for a new manufacturing facility in Michigan. Swick expects his firm to make that determination within the next 60-90 days.

"We are also looking at consolidating two facilities into one facility in Michigan," Swick says.

Source: Doug Swick, president of Eberspaecher Exhaust Technology
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Northville's Gentherm acquires Global Thermoelectric

Gentherm has acquired Global Thermoelectric in a deal to bring new technology to the Northville-based firm’s portfolio.

Gentherm, which develops thermal management technologies, was interested in Global Thermoelectric's industrial thermoelectric generator systems, specifically their remote power generation. Global Thermoelectric, which is based in Calgary, makes systems that can operate in remote industrial areas.

"We like that concept very much," says Daniel Coker, president & CEO of Gentherm. "We're experts in thermal electrics."

Gentherm has hired 30 people in the last year, expanding its headquarters and research-and-development facility in Northville to 150 employees. It has plans to add more soon.

"We're trying to hire more people as we speak," Coker says. "We hired three people last week."

Gentherm grew its revenue by 19.2 percent last year and 10 percent two years ago. The 23-year-old business expects a double-digit revenue increase this year.

"Our goal is to grow 10-15 percent a year, and we achieve our goals," Coker says.

Source: Daniel Coker, president & CEO of Gentherm
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Cambridge Consulting Group launches healthcare exchange, adds 10 jobs

The bureaucracy that has come with the Affordable Healthcare Act has sent a lot of entrepreneurs scrambling to adapt. Cambridge Consulting Group is growing by running to these businesses with an answer.

The Troy-based company is launching its own healthcare exchange, Cambridge Exchange Solutions, that offers a defined contribution model. It enables the user to set an overall budget for benefits and employees.

"It creates a nice solution for a lot of groups that were thinking of getting out of offered benefits plans," says Cam Kennedy, partner & CFO of Cambridge Consulting Group.

The 29-year-old business offers insurance and financial consulting services, ranging from employee benefits to risk management to wealth strategies. It started to move toward offering the exchange as part of its services when it saw the market shift after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Cambridge Consulting Group has hired 10 people over the last year, mainly analysts and consultants. It now has a staff of 60 employees and five interns. It also has three open positions for analysts and a client services representative.

Source: Cam Kennedy, partner & CFO of Cambridge Consulting Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Corrigan Moving Systems looks to hire 200 people this spring

Career opportunities at Corrigan Moving Systems will abound this spring as the moving firm begins to go on a hiring spree.

The Farmington Hills-based company is hiring 200 people this spring to help with the moving season this summer and fall. Most of the hires are for laborers and drivers who work on a part-time basis. Think college students or young people fresh out of high school.

"Every summer we hire a lot of part-time people," says David Corrigan, president of Corrigan Moving Systems. "That's what we’re doing again this summer."

Those part-time positions are often just summer jobs for young people. However, Corrigan says about 10 percent of those people who take the summer jobs parlay those into full-time gigs for the moving company. In years past that meant about a dozen jobs, but the company's recent growth spurt means there are even more opportunities for advancement this year.

"Our business has been growing so we need more than we used to," Corrigan says. "We only needed 100-110 a year ago. This year we need every one of 200 people."

For information on the new positions, click here or email a resume to jobs@corriganmoving.com.  

Source: David Corrigan, president of Corrigan Moving Systems
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Giffels Webster helps communities obtain $3.5M in grant funds

Giffels Webster may have moved its headquarters to downtown Detroit a few years ago, but the civil engineering firm isn’t leaving the rest of Metro Detroit behind.

The 62-year-old firm has helped three suburban communities in Metro Detroit score $3.5 million in grants from the state of Michigan over the last year. Those grants include $2 million for the Macomb County Wastewater Disposal District to complete a wastewater asset management plan, $994,410 for Washington Township to a create a wastewater assessment management plan, and $515,700 for Lyon Township to design the township’s wastewater treatment plant expansion.

"That $3.5 million is more than what we normally get for communities in a year," says Jason Mayer, senior project manager at Giffels Webster.

Giffels Webster employs 69 people, including 22 in its Macomb office and 18 in its Birmingham office. The remainder are in the company's headquarters in downtown Detroit. The firm has hired 18 people over the last year, with a dozen of them working in the offices in Macomb and Oakland counties.

Source: Jason Mayer, senior project manager at Giffels Webster
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Lawrence Tech receives $697K grant for entrepreneurial project studio

The Kern Family Foundation is giving nearly $700,000 to Lawrence Technological University as part of an effort to make the university’s curriculum more entrepreneurial in nature.

"We want to transform the educational experience of our students," says Maria Vaz, provost at Lawrence Technological University. "We want our students to have an entrepreneurial mindset."

The Kern Family Foundation is giving Lawrence Tech a $697,000 grant over three years, which is the final in a phase of $2.4 million worth of giving from the Wisconsin-based foundation that started in 2003. The grant is focused on incorporating the entrepreneurial mindset into undergraduate engineering education at Lawrence Tech.

For instance, the grant helped infuse entrepreneurial aspects into 50 courses throughout the college. It also helped to establish a freshman studio for engineering students that is project-based and focused on creating an enterprising attitude in students. The latest installment of the grant will help create a sophomore version of that studio.

"We want to institutionalize even more of the changes we made to the curriculum," Vaz says.

Source: Maria Vaz, provost at Lawrence Technological University
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Realtime Technologies moves to bigger office in Royal Oak

Realtime Technologies has a new home in downtown Royal Oak. The company ended up there a little faster than expected for an unlikely reason: fire.

The simulation firm was planning to move to new offices last year, and then a fire hit its offices late last summer. That accelerated the company’s plans, prompting it to move early that fall to a bigger, nicer facility.

The company, a subsidiary of Ann Arbor-based AroTech, now employs a dozen people in Royal Oak after adding a new software developer. It is also looking to make another hire or two this spring if the right candidate comes around.

"We're always looking for good talent," says Clayne Woodbury, national sales director for Realtime Technologies. The company also hired another person outside of Michigan that was a former employee, he says. "We have added some significant talent in the last year."

Realtime Technologies makes simulation technology and offers custom software design and engineering services. The technical description involves real-time, multi-body vehicle dynamics, and graphical simulation and modeling. Among its projects are a simulation technology for autonomous vehicles, railroads and hospitals.

"One of the things we're doing more and more of as we become more involved with the commercial side of the business is rail," Woodbury says. "We're building a simulator for a light-rail system in Toronto."

Source: Clayne Woodbury, national sales director for Realtime Technologies
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Coliant forms partnership with Harley-Davidson

Coliant, a local startup, is forming a partnership with a name-brand corporation, Harley Davidson, to produce the next big thing in motorcycle gear: microclimate technology.

The Warren-based startup’s newly-developed personal climate-control technology, i.e. Smart Clothing system, works to keep users warm while riding motorcycles and other similar vehicles, like ATVs. Coliant plans to ship its first units to Harley Davidson late next year.

"We're trying to set the standard in this industry, open-cabin vehicles," says John Swiatek, CEO of Coliant.

The 10-year-old company has been producing accessory technology for outdoors vehicles for years. Its Powerlet brand is an electrical accessory in the powersport industry that allows users of motorcycles and ATVs to plug their gadgets into the vehicle. Coliant won the $25,000 prize in the Next Generation Manufacturing category at the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition last fall for its technological innovations.

"The technology has advanced," Swiatek says. "Our customers are evolving."

Which has meant the company has shaken up its staff. It hired two new executives over the last year, including a president and head of business development. Right now the team is focused on its microclimate technology for clothing.

"This is the largest project we're undertaking at the moment," Swiatek says.

Source: John Swiatek, CEO of Coliant
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Wright & Filippis expands leadership team with 3 new executives

The executive team at Wright & Filippis is shaking up and expanding from its headquarters in Rochester Hills.

The health-care firm, which specializes in prosthetics, has hired a new vice president of operations, a vice president of sales and a director of IT. Its vice president of facility operations is now the executive vice president of mergers & acquisition, and its former COO and CFO is now company president. The new executive team will oversee the company’s 625 employees, of which 500 are based in Metro Detroit.

"We're moving people so we can grow the company in different areas," says A.J. Filippis CEO & chairman of Wright & Filippis.

The 70-year-old firm has left some markets so it can grow into others. It exited several supply-based ventures, such as diabetic supplies. It is now focusing on prosthetics, orthotics, respiratory care services, and home medical equipment and supplies, complex seating rehabilitation and home accessibility systems.

Wright & Filippis is also in the process of acquiring some other business across the U.S. The firm recently acquired Carolina Orthotics & Prosthetics and is targeting a handful of other acquisitions.

"We have two more mergers and acquisitions we plan to execute in the next 60 days," Filippis says. He adds, "We're looking at other opportunities along the east coast to expand our product line."

Source: A.J. Filippis CEO & chairman of Wright & Filippis
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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