3Degrees had the opportunity earlier today to attend the opening ceremony for mHub, Chicago’s newest advanced manufacturing innovation space.
Formely Catalyze, mHub is moving into what was once Motorola Mobility’s 60,000 square foot space in West Town. The space will include metal and woodworking tools, electronic prototyping space, as well as co-working space and individually reserved desks. Their new facility includes a classroom as well, so members can benefit from classes and training sessions.
World Business Chicago was a major partner for Catalyze in creating the space, so its chair, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, opened the event.
“This innovation space is the final piece of the manufacturing puzzle”, the mayor said, adding that Chicago is in the unique position to become a manufacturing leader because of its existing transportation and logistics infrastructure. “The entire ecosystem is now in place in Chicago”, he said.
mHub leaders hope that the space will provide a pipeline for STEM talent and new product ideas, increase investment in new hardware startups, and broaden connections between entrepreneurs, research, and Chicago’s manufacturing base.
Bill Fienup, founder of Catalyze, detailed the challenges of starting a company without a support structure from his own experience. Lack of mentorship, equipment and funding were all challenges. He founded Catalyze as a solution, and now mHub may help thousands of Midwesterners in their entrepreneurial goals.
mHub still has a ways to go: detailed plans for machine shops and office spaces were presented during tours of the new facility, but statements like “Just imagine this wall knocked down,” or, “we’ll build a glass wall here” were heard often. Most manufacturing equipment has not been moved into the space yet, and some of Motorola’s remnants have yet to be moved out.
Even with little more than a shell of a building so far, mHub clearly carries great potential for hardware manufacturing in Chicago and the Midwest as a whole. 3Degrees is excited to welcome the new advanced manufacturing hub to town.