Chicago’s burgeoning product manufacturers just got a boost as the city debuted a center called MHUB that will give them access to state-of-the-art facilities as they bring products to market.
MHUB’s initial founding industry partners include Chase Foundation, GE Ventures and Marmon; along with partners Ask Power; Autodesk; Chamberlain Group; Comcast; Kirkland & Ellis; MINIMAL, who also designed MHUB’s visual brand identity; TMA Education; UL; and Wiegel Toolworks.
“MHUB builds on Chicago’s history as a home for hard-working men and women with bold vision and big ideas,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said on August 10 at the announcement of the center. “MHUB will unite the manufacturing sector with our vibrant technology-focused entrepreneurial scene, and will encourage new and existing manufacturing as a driver of growth for our city thanks to new applications in product development and manufacturing.”
MHUB will partner with manufacturers, business accelerator programs, venture capitalists, engineering and product development consultancies, universities and providers of business services.
Located at a former Motorola Mobility prototyping and testing lab, the center will be equipped with a 3D-printing lab, electronics labs, a metal shop and more..
“Breakthrough products are sure to result thanks to MHUB’s ability to attract designers and engineers who are eager to apply the latest research in this resource-rich facility,” Karen Kerr, senior managing director of advanced manufacturing at GE Ventures said. “The blend of intellectual and physical capital will be transformational.”
To jumpstart the center, the MHUB board is joining with Catalyze Chicago, which has helped companies grow from prototype to product. Since inception, Catalyze has fostered 56 companies generating $57 million in revenue and launched nearly 60 successful products.
The center will work on a membership basis with rates starting at $145 per month for part-time access to the prototyping lab. Several packages will be offered for early stage entrepreneurs up through established enterprises, including shared co-working space and private office rentals within MHUB.
Additionally, MHUB will serve as a connection point to the larger community with educational programs, networking events and workshops. The center will also become a supportive gateway for those who are underrepresented in Chicago’s innovation ecosystem.
“MHUB will act as a convener for innovation, collaboration and growth in order to fill the gaps between the entrepreneurial, manufacturing and applied innovation sectors,” explained Hugh Sullivan, senior adviser of Morgan Stanley, chairman of MHUB’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee and a former manufacturer.