The Related Companies chairman and University of Michigan alumni Stephen Ross has announced $100m in philanthropic gift to launch a fundraising campaign for the construction of the Detroit Center for Innovation.

Bedrock founder and chairman Dan Gilbert had also contributed land for the 14-acre Detroit Center for Innovation (DCI).

To be located on the former Wayne County Jail site, DCI will be a 190,000ft² research and education centre operated by the University of Michigan.

Designed by architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox, the building will act as a centrepiece of the first phase of a planned multi-building development at the east edge of downtown, offering programmes that focus on high-tech research, education and innovation. Construction on the building is expected to next year.

DCI is expected to build on Detroit’s growing presence as a centre for innovation offering local businesses a pipeline of talent and opportunities for workers to further their skills.

The facility is expected to eventually serve up to 1,000 graduate and senior-level undergraduate students pursuing advanced degrees across a high-tech innovation disciplines such as mobility, artificial intelligence, data science, entrepreneurship, sustainability, cybersecurity, financial technology and more.

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The first phase of the DCI will include incubator and start-up services for entrepreneurs, collaboration space for established companies, residential units, a hotel and conference centre and event space.

The new multi-building complex will serve as a new gateway in Detroit’s downtown connecting the Central Business District and Greektown Entertainment Center to Lafayette Park and Eastern Market.

Ross said: “Detroit has always been an incredible place of innovation and opportunity, and the Detroit Center for Innovation will usher the city into a new era of leadership in technology. This gift is a symbol of progress and momentum in Detroit and I am incredibly proud to advance this transformative project.

“My time at the University of Michigan was foundational for my life and career, and I hope the students who come here seize the opportunity to make a difference and make an impact here in Detroit and across the country.”

Dan Gilbert said: “This project could not be possible without the foresight and partnership of the City of Detroit, Wayne County, Mark Schlissel and Stephen Ross.

“Together, we will strive to create a true centrepiece of the city – one that serves a higher purpose. This innovation centre will create exciting opportunities as one of the city’s technology hubs well into the future, attracting employers, talent and technology.”


Image: Detroit Mayor and U-M alum Mike Duggan, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, U-M alum and Chairman and Founder of Related Cos. Stephen Ross, and U-M President Mark Schlissel at Crain’s Newsmaker of the Year luncheon at the MGM Grand Detroit in Detroit, Michigan. (Credit: Austin Thomason.)