Detroit Mobility Lab’s Chris Thomas to speak at Frontier Conference 2020 innovation summit

Detroit Mobility Lab’s Chris Thomas to speak at Frontier Conference 2020 innovation summit
More than 200 business, government and academic leaders are expected to attend the Frontier Conference 2020 in Birmingham this April. (contributed)

Chris Thomas, one of the nation’s leading experts on the next-generation mobility sector, will speak in Birmingham at Frontier Conference 2020, where more than 200 business, government and academic leaders will share information and best practices for industrial innovation.

Chris Thomas. (contributed)

Thomas is the co-founder and president of the Detroit Mobility Lab, which is working to help Detroit become one of the world’s foremost future mobility ecosystems. This sector includes autonomous, connected, electric and shared vehicles, along with new transportation platforms including bike-, scooter-, and ride-sharing services. The sector is also involved in making more traditional types of transportation, such as bus and train travel, more efficient and connected.

The Detroit Mobility Lab is helping companies foster innovation while building a forward-thinking workforce that can bring expertise in artificial intelligence, robotics, connectivity, electrification and computer science to the automotive and broader mobility industry. The Mobility Lab’s mission of helping to facilitate innovation at industrial companies ties well to the theme of the Frontier Conference.

The conference, set for April 1-3 at The Lyric Theatre and Hill Event Center in Birmingham, is designed to share ideas among industries about everything from transportation logistics, to renewable energy’s impact on power generation, to leadership tips for forward-thinking industrial companies. The most recent Frontier Conference in 2018 attracted innovation leaders representing 130 organizations from 20 states and five countries, spanning 17 major industrial disciplines.

“It’s critical that industrial companies learn how to build and buy new technologies if they are to play a major part in the evolving field of mobility,” Thomas said. “Building the best teams, and giving them the ability to think differently, is critical to success, and I am excited to talk about these topics at the Frontier Conference.”

The Frontier Conference brings together representatives of many industries and disciplines to exchange innovative ideas and best practices. (contributed)

For Thomas, working on innovative ideas is a way of life. Before he co-founded the Detroit Mobility Lab, Thomas co-founded Fontinalis Partners, working to build it into one of the top investment firms in next-generation mobility. While at Fontinalis, he served as a board member for nuTonomy (acquired by Aptiv in 2017) and as a board observer at Parkmobile (acquired by BMW in January 2018) and Life360 (IPO in May 2019). His background includes experience as a communications officer in the U.S. Army and as an investment banker in UBS’ technology and energy groups.

Based in Detroit, Thomas also advises a number of mobility startups around the globe, acts as a senior adviser to the COMMIT Foundation and is a member of the Global Cleantech 100 expert panel. He is also a co-owner of Buddy’s Pizza, the birthplace of original Detroit-style pizza, and an avid angel investor. Thomas has served as the chairman of Read to a Child, a national children’s literacy and mentoring nonprofit, and as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Personal Transportation Systems.

For more information about the Frontier Conference, visit

The Conference was founded by Hank Torbert, Kirk Coburn and Tim DeSilva. Torbert is an executive and investor focused on identifying and supporting emerging technologies for industrials. Coburn is an entrepreneur, investor and member of Shell’s corporate venture capital fund at Shell Technology Ventures (STV), focused on investing in both traditional oil and gas technologies and future markets. DeSilva is a brand architect and creative strategist, co-founder of Culture Pilot, and co-curator of event experiences such as TEDxHouston and Visualized NYC.

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