Spotlight on Erie Hack Partners: Paul Riser Jr. of Detroit

March 29, 2021
“This year’s transition certainly won’t be easy, but I think we are up for the challenge”


Erie Hack is back! Erie Hack is an innovation competition that focuses on finding technology solutions to Lake Erie’s most pressing problems. It was first launched in 2017 with a second iteration in 2019. 2021 will bring about our third Erie Hack, and as a preview to this year’s challenge, we wanted to feature a few key people, including our partners in Detroit, Toledo, and Buffalo. Look out for more information in the coming months!


Paul Riser Jr. has been with TechTown Detroit since 2014. He started as the Managing Director of Technology-Based Entrepreneurship before becoming the inaugural Director of Detroit Urban Solution in 2019. He has had a breadth of experiences that range from large technology-oriented global enterprises to life science startups. During his tenure at TechTown, he has played a crucial role in the growth of entrepreneurship in Detroit.

Paul has been involved in Erie Hack since its inception in 2017. He loves seeing the enthusiasm that comes with the team formation process, especially once participants find the right teammates. According to Paul, you can see the excitement in the eyes and the change in body language when teams, sometimes comprised of former strangers, connect. Paul believes in the mission of Erie Hack because it invites non-techies to engage in TechTown’s entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystem. This year, Erie Hack will look very different as most of the competition will take place virtually, but Paul believes that this is just another opportunity to foster connections beyond Detroit.


Almost two years have passed since the last Erie Hack, and Paul has gotten to see positive results on Detroit’s connection with Lake Erie. In fact, he thinks that Erie Hack has done more than just strengthen the perception of the Great Lake; he believes the competition increased the awareness of issues relating to water quality and the environment. In addition, this appreciation of Michigan’s “water economy” has a lot of value as it also impacts issues relating to health and wellness, quality of life, and so much more. He can’t wait to see people with different backgrounds come together to position Michigan and the Great Lakes region as a global leader in water innovation.

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