Diversifying in Detroit

With one in three wage-earners in Detroit currently unemployed, primarily due to the crisis the in the auto industry, this once thriving city has been hard hit by the economic downturn in the United States. Many of the city’s talented younger generation are leaving Detroit to search for job opportunities elsewhere, which experts believe is a cause for concern and could spell disaster for the future of the city. But amidst all the doom and gloom, there are optimistic entrepreneurs who are determined to put a positive spin on the changes taking place in Detroit, by introducing and developing new industries, the majority of which are totally unrelated to the auto industry.

Leading the pack in Detroit development efforts is Asterand, a human tissue research company based in the city, with branches in the UK and Japan. Under the leadership of CEO Martyn Coombs, Asterand aims to turn Detroit into a world leader in the field of medical and pharmaceutical research. As the top performer on the London Stock Exchange in 2008, it would seem that Asterand has what it takes to reach its goals.

As innovators in electrical systems for commercial buildings, Nextek Power Systems also aims to remain in Detroit. With a growing demand for “green” energy, CEO Paul Savage has noted that Nextek is in a “very exciting spot” with their quest for developing energy efficient power supplies. Working together with Armstrong Ceiling Systems, Nextek aims to become a household name with a ceiling grid system incorporating low-voltage DC power.

Other companies determined to be influential in successfully changing the focus of the Detroit economy include Sakti3, which under the leadership of CEO Marie Sastry, intends to become a major supplier of lithium-ion batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles. The brainchild of CEO Josh Linkner, ePrize has worked with national brand leaders (Coca-Cola, Disney, Dell, Yahoo, Johnson & Johnson) and intends to remain based in Detroit while continuing to develop this successful dot-com business which already hires 350 people nationwide.