With a new chief executive at the controls, Ann Arbor-based Michigan Aerospace Corporation is launching a new business group as it explores the universe of commercialization. CEO Peter Tchoryk Jr. said Michigan Aerospace formed an optical products group as part of a larger reorganization to focus on commercializing products from the company’s eight years of basic research. In addition to the optical group, specific business units have been created around the company’s core systems for measuring high-altitude wind speeds and its various docking mechanisms for satellites and underwater vehicles. Technologies from those areas eventually will be commercialized through the new optical group. The company does have specific optical components that can be sold now. The change in direction is possible because the company expects its core business of government contracting to do well next year, said Tchoryk. “We’re in a great position now.” The company’s strategy is to maintain its conservative nature and ramp up slowly in the optical products group by introducing products as cost efficiently as possible, Tchoryk said. The company, which has not had outside investment since it was formed in 1996 to commercialize research from the University of Michigan, would consider venture capital to help its expansion, he said. Tchoryk expects to hire some people next year to add to its current staff of 25. Company revenues should approach $4 million this year – its best year to date, Tchoryk said – mostly from government contract work. “We’re anticipating to do much better in 2005,” he said, adding that talks are under way for a partnership with a major aerospace industry player. Tchoryk also said he wants the company to diversify by doing more business with Michigan companies. Some technologies could be applicable, he said, to the automobile and biomedical industries. The company also has newer technology that is applicable to microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and nano-technology applications, which are both growing areas in Michigan. Michigan Aerospace’s wind-measurement technology can be incorporated into products for airports and high-speed aircraft, while its docking technology can be used in space missions as well as unmanned underwater vehicles that look for mines. Excerpts from Business Review article, Vol. 2, Issue 40, 2004.