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Mapping the Network: Detroit’s Civic Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Patrick McAnaney

MA Candidate, Johns Hopkins SAIS

Last month we published an article about mapping startup communities, with examples of heat maps from Austin and New York. We continue this series this month with an exploration of the civic entrepreneurship ecosystem in Detroit. The following map highlights the top Education, Energy, Health and Smart City startups from the Detroit metro region (follow the link for full access to the map):


So what does this map tell us?

  1. Unlike Austin and New York, the highest concentration of civic startups in the Detroit metro area is not found in the city’s downtown, but rather on its outskirts: the neighboring college town of Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan. While Ann Arbor may have its own unique identity separate from the city proper, its close geographical proximity (40 miles from downtown) and its wealth of entrepreneurial activity means that it forms a vital part of the Detroit metro ecosystem.
  2. Much of the recent focus of Detroit’s economic revitalization has been on its burgeoning downtown community, and the map shows that there is indeed a growing civic innovation ecosystem in the heart of downtown, the second highest concentration of civic startups after Ann Arbor. However, more so than in Austin or New York, the rest of the community is scattered throughout the outlying suburbs, reflecting the geographic dispersion of entrepreneurs.
  3. Health startups in particular are highly concentrated in the Ann Arbor area, potentially reflecting the influence of the university community and University of Michigan hospital network in driving health entrepreneurship.

Stayed tuned for future maps from the remaining cities from our Innovation that Matters tour: Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.

Special thanks to Zach Ketzlach for assisting in the compilation and analysis of this map.

Patrick McAnaney

MA Candidate, Johns Hopkins SAIS

Before enrolling in his current graduate program, Patrick led 1776's research initiatives. He had also worked in business operations for Downtown Project in Las Vegas, where he opened the Downtown Container Park…