The University is launching a new program in the hopes of putting the future of transportation on the right “TRAC.”

The new initiative, Michigan Translational Research and Commercialization, works to advance the future of transportation technologies and boost Michigan’s economy.

M-TRAC is a three-year program created to fund researchers from the College of Engineering and the U-M Transportation Research Institute to innovate transportation.

Volker Sick, the University’s associate vice president for research and an M-TRAC oversight committee member, said the program was developed as a result of a public announcement made late last year by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The organization invited universities within the state to compete in finding a project that would enhance current transportation technologies.

“The main goal of M-TRAC is to help professors and researchers develop their ideas into products and companies and to provide jobs for Michigan,” Sick said.

Total funding for the pilot program is $330,000, with which each one-year project receiving an average of $50,000 to $75,000 with costs split between the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the University.

M-TRAC is currently in the process of choosing projects to fund. An oversight committee consisting of a mix of University leaders, venture capitalists and transportation experts will choose the projects and provide mentorship starting in early December.

Apart from choosing the projects, committee members will also mentor project participants. The candidates will do the technical work themselves, while the committee will assist with the business aspect of the project.

Sick said the committee is looking for a product idea that can be licensed quickly and efficiently. The committee plans to choose two or three projects initially, but once more funding is available the ultimate goal will be to sponsor 10 to 12 projects.

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