July 6, 2023

Matt Fry, Communications Director
Global Detroit

Pedro Guillen, COO, Centrepolis Accelerator
at Lawrence Technological University


Global Detroit and Lawrence Tech Launch Startup Program for International Founders

Two Entrepreneurs Take the Electric Vehicle Sector to New Heights

Lawrence Technological University (Lawrence Tech, LTU) becomes the fifth Michigan university to join Global Detroit’s Global Entrepreneur in Residence (GEIR) program, which helps immigrant and international entrepreneurs launch high-growth startup companies in Michigan. LTU is on a growing list of partner universities with a Global EIR program, including Michigan Tech, Wayne State University, and College for Creative Studies. While no longer involved, the University of Michigan and the Economic Growth Institute worked hand in hand with Global Detroit to successfully pilot the Global EIR program.

International entrepreneurs who want to start a business in the United States face major challenges obtaining a visa. Global Detroit’s GEIR program places foreign-born startup founders at universities to teach, mentor and support technology transfer initiatives. The founders then become eligible for an H-1B visa, which enables them to launch and grow their company here in Michigan. 

Global Detroit and Lawrence Tech have selected two electric vehicle startup companies and founders for the program: David Medina Álvarez, whose company Livaq produces EQuad, an electric all-terrain vehicle (ATV), and Catherine Anthony, co-founder of Snowbotix, a business that creates self-driving snow removal robots. Both David and Catherine will work out of the Centrepolis Accelerator on the campus of LTU. 

“In meeting both of our new entrepreneurs they impressed us with their ebullience, determination, and knowledge within their respective fields. We are excited that they are driving Michigan’s economy forward and making a positive contribution to the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Global Detroit’s Ernestine Lyons, manager of the Global EIR program. 

David Álvarez has the vision and embodies the enterprising spirit that so many international founders possess. As an 8-year-old growing up in Morales Mexico, David knew that he wanted to be a transportation designer. While visiting the ocean-side city of Acapulco, his favorite activity was riding all-terrain vehicles along the coast, and this memory from childhood is what inspired him to create EQuad, his electric solution for a lighter, quieter, faster, and lower-maintenance ATV. Currently in pre-sales, the EQuad is built with a carbon fiber body, has a 167-mile range, and tops out at 67 mph. David hopes to debut his environmentally friendly ATV at the 2024 Detroit Auto Show. Recently, David has raised capital through the Detroit-based ID Ventures, and he has established his base of operations at Newlab, a prominent technology accelerator located within Michigan Central.

Catherine Anthony, who immigrated from India, says that her company Snowbotix has been called the Roomba of commercial snow removal. In fact, the company produces all-electric, all-terrain, all-season utility robots for automating labor-intensive, hazardous outdoor chores—snow removal, power washing, vegetation control—to mitigate labor shortage and greenhouse emissions. Snowbotix developed the snow removal robot to address significant safety risks, including slip-and-fall accidents that result in 17,000 fatalities and one million injuries annually. The company also wants to replace environmentally harmful gas-powered equipment that produces gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions. An engineering marvel, the robot relies on AI to control navigation and maneuverability. Depth sensors and cameras control where the robot goes and a continuous propulsion system—like tank treads—enables the robot to easily handle curbs, steps, and slopes up/down to 45 degrees. The robot has a nominal run time of 4-6 hours and offers options like an integrated plow and a collector bin. Snowbotix has already contracted with the Gerald R. Ford International Airport for snow removal services, and the company secured a $200,000 grant with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). 

“David and Catherine are prime examples of entrepreneurs who are showing us what the future looks like right now. And we recognize the significance of Global Detroit’s role in helping these and other foreign-born founders stay in Michigan to cultivate great business and tech ideas,” said Pedro Guillen, COO of the Centrepolis Accelerator. “These ideas grow into successful Michigan-based companies, and this is key to keeping our economy vital.” 

In the first two-and-a-half years of the Global EIR program, Global Detroit supported seven founders from six companies. Those participants raised $15.6 million in venture capital and created 49 part-time and full-time jobs. Four of these founders have completed their Global EIR program, received a longer-term visa, and are working full-time with their company. On the national level, a dozen universities have launched some version of a Global EIR program over the past decade. Collectively these Global EIR programs have enabled the launch of more than 100 startup companies that have raised over $1.5 billion in venture-backed capital investment and created over 2,500 U.S. jobs.

Funding for the Global EIR launch at Michigan Tech is provided through a State of Michigan appropriation for the Global Talent Attraction and Retention Program (GTARP), a collection of seven immigrant workforce development initiatives. The GTARP family of programs is an integral part of Governor Whitmer’s 60×30 plan to ensure that 60% of Michigan’s working-age adults possess a skill certificate or college degree by 2030.  

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Lawrence Technological University

Lawrence Technological University,, is one of only 13 private, technological, comprehensive doctoral universities in the United States. Located in Southfield, Michigan. LTU was founded in 1932 and offers more than 100 programs through its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 11 percent of universities for alumni salaries. Forbes and The Wall Street Journal rank LTU among the nation’s top 10 percent. U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best in the Midwest colleges. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

The Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University

The Centrepolis Accelerator is on a mission to fuel the growth of Southeast Michigan’s small manufacturers and hardware entrepreneurs by providing access to key resources including mentors, workshops, cutting-edge technologies, corporate connections, student & faculty engagement, events, workspace, and a collaborative community of peers. Accelerator members have access to a state-of-the-art 6,200 square foot facility featuring additional workspace, training facilities, and a premier manufacturing technology lab.

Global Detroit

With a focus on immigrants and global talent, Global Detroit develops and implements inclusive strategies to drive the growth, revitalization and broadly shared prosperity of Detroit and Southeast Michigan. By ensuring immigrants are a vital part of the region’s community and economic development strategies, Global Detroit is building a vibrant city and thriving global region with strong neighborhoods, healthy families, competitive companies, successful small businesses, and a rich and diverse cultural life. Founded in 2010, Global Detroit develops and leads programs centered on global talent, entrepreneurship, and neighborhoods with the aim of demonstrating the potential for large-scale impact. Global Detroit also continues to conduct groundbreaking research, drives policy, and serves as a leading advocate for immigrant inclusion as a strategy to build prosperity for everyone in Southeast Michigan.