DETROIT – Paul Riser Jr. has been named the inaugural director of Detroit Urban Solutions, a technology innovation consortium seeking to advance the growth of Detroit’s technology ecosystem and develop cutting edge solutions to challenges facing Detroit and similar urban areas.
Since 2014, Riser has served as Managing Director of Technology-Based Entrepreneurship at TechTown Detroit, one of the founding partners of Detroit Urban Solutions. During his tenure, Riser has played a seminal role in building Detroit’s entrepreneurial culture, supporting nearly 500 tech, cyber, mobility and life sciences startups develop, launch, grow and secure more than $30 million in capital. Riser assumes his new position March 1.
Detroit Urban Solutions will focus primarily on mobility, digital health, civic technologies and smart city technologies. It is a partnership among Wayne State, TechTown, NextEnergy and numerous other organizations,
The consortium announced its first major investment last May, with Wayne State University’s $6.6 million purchase of the former NextEnergy Center, now renamed the Wayne State Industry Innovation Center. The building offers office, laboratory, and event and demonstration space and will serve as a location for university faculty, researchers, and students to co-locate with industry to work on a variety of cutting edge technology projects.
“We are eager to work with Paul to accelerate Detroit Urban Solutions and link the work we are doing in smart mobility and smart grid to other pillars of the smart cities consortia,” said Jim Saber, president and CEO of NextEnergy.
Cluster development is a core focus of Detroit Urban Solutions, and Riser brings a depth of experience in this area. Most notably, he led the formation of the MedHealth Innovation Cluster, a regional collaboration connecting, convening and educating the medical innovation ecosystem in Southeast Michigan and Southwest Ontario.
Its goal is to accelerate the adoption of technologies that improve quality of care and contribute to economic growth in the region. With Riser’s appointment, the innovation cluster will fall under the Detroit Urban Solutions umbrella. He has also played a key role in driving regional innovation competitions such as ErieHack and the FinTech Challenge.
“Paul is the ultimate connector and a tireless champion of the Detroit region’s great potential to be a true tech hub,” said Ned Staebler, vice president for economic development at Wayne State and president and CEO of TechTown “As Paul’s leadership of the MedHealth Innovation Cluster attests, he is quick to identify key growth areas in the region and pull the right people and resources together to move the work forward and put Southeast Michigan on the map.”
Riser has more than 20 years of professional experience working with start-up firms to global enterprises in the areas of IT systems administration, systems architecture, technology integration, technical pre-sales support and medical device development. Prior to joining TechTown, Riser served as chief technology and information officer for Innovative Health Technologies, a Detroit biotech startup developing regenerative, biomimetic medical devices. Riser is also the president and CEO of the Riser Group, a Northville-based IT and business development consulting firm.