Michigan Central, Ford Motor Company’s development in Corktown, and Newlab, home to over 800 engineers, entrepreneurs, and inventors applying transformative technologies to things that matter, today announced a collaboration to foster an innovation ecosystem committed to helping shape the future of mobility in a way that benefits everyone. Pairing Ford’s automotive industry leadership with Newlab’s successful studio model, the alliance aims to tackle complex transportation problems related to connectivity, autonomy and electrification.
Two years ago, Ford purchased 1.2 million square feet in Corktown, Detroit’s oldest neighborhood, including the historic Michigan Central Station, with plans to establish a new mobility innovation district. Called Michigan Central, the district will be an open platform for partnerships, drawing the best minds from Detroit and around the world to co-create and test mobility solutions on real-world streets, in real-world situations. The first work spaces within Michigan Central will open in 2022.
Michigan Central and Newlab will launch two new studios focused on mobility that will ultimately live within the district. A corporate studio sponsored by Ford will kick off this summer to address macro mobility issues, and as part of Ford’s commitment to the local community, a second civic studio will follow focusing on more immediate mobility issues in the neighborhoods around Michigan Central Station.
“The goal of the Michigan Central district is to spur development of new transportation solutions and our collaboration with Newlab will bring even more talent to the region to join Ford in creating the future of mobility,” said Julie Roscini who leads the development’s external engagement strategy for Ford. “The mobility studios will help us lay the foundation for the innovation ecosystem of partners and collaborators we want to create in Corktown.”
Newlab’s studio model brings top entrepreneurs, engineers, and inventors together with leaders and experts across cities, regions and industries to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. To date, Newlab has supported its member companies in raising over $700M in capital, with over $400M of recent acquisitions, and a collective valuation of over $2.6B.
In establishing the mobility innovation studios for Michigan Central, Newlab will work together with the existing community of accelerators and incubators in Detroit and Michigan, attracting talent and capital from outside the region and supporting homegrown companies and entrepreneurs.
Newlab will draw on talent from its existing community of 155 startups, especially those companies helping make cities more equitable, livable and resilient. Its member companies include Carmera, a road intelligence platform; Tarform, a new type of electric motorcycle; Optimus Ride, the first AV shuttle in New York; and Roadpower Systems, a platform to generate grid-grade electricity using energy recovered from vehicles in motion. With a CEO at the helm of Newlab who spent over two years building the self-driving car business at Waymo, a division of Google X, mobility has naturally emerged as a focal point.
“Detroit is the birthplace for modern manufacturing, and Ford is the beating heart of the country’s automotive industry. This is why Michigan Central is the perfect place for Newlab’s model of collaborative, diverse, and dynamic innovation,” said Shaun Stewart, CEO of Newlab. “Our studio model will support the overall development of Michigan’s startup ecosystem, making the pie bigger for everyone and helping local startups to stay, grow and thrive here.”