Michigan Central Announces Newlab as Partner to Activate Mobility Innovation Ecosystem at Detroit’s Reimagined Book Depository Building
February 15, 2023
DETROIT, February 15, 2023 – Today, Michigan Central announced an expansion of their partnership with Newlab to grow their mobility innovation ecosystem, with operations centered at the historic Book Depository building, set to fully open this spring. Together, Newlab and Michigan Central will accelerate the development of new sustainable and equitable solutions to the most pressing challenges at the intersection of mobility and society.
Michigan Central and Newlab collaborated on the design and programming of the Book Depository building, which will serve as Newlab’s Detroit headquarters and as a center of gravity for innovation at Michigan Central. The building will be home to hundreds of entrepreneurs and inventors from a multitude of companies creating next-generation mobility solutions to advance areas like electrification and aerial technology, and will contain purpose-built workspaces and prototyping labs to accelerate applied R&D and collaboration. For a sneak peek at the inside of the Book Depository building, see the image below this article.
The reimagined Book Depository building will be the first major building to open at Michigan Central, whose home base is a 30-acre site nestled between the Corktown and Southwest Detroit neighborhoods and anchored by the renewed Michigan Central Station. Michigan Central is both a convener for Detroiters and visitors alike, and a call-to-action to advance a more sustainable and equitable future through an inclusive approach to mobility solutions.
“When we increase access to mobility, we increase equity in access to goods and services, and to job opportunities for everyone. The future of transportation—from autonomous and electric vehicles to innovations in mass transit and logistics—is already here. We need the infrastructure to make sure we develop the next generation of solutions to critical challenges across mobility and society in an equitable and sustainable way,” said Joshua Sirefman, Chief Executive Officer, Michigan Central. “Newlab has shown what can happen when a community of entrepreneurs and inventors comes together to tackle real problems with real solutions. I am thrilled they will be our partner as we work to connect the potential of emerging technologies to the real social and economic needs of the people using them.”
Newlab has unparalleled expertise in creating the conditions for world-changing ideas to become real-world solutions. All of Newlab’s activity globally is organized through three Studios—Mobility, Energy and Materials—and Michigan Central is the physical anchor point for Newlab’s Mobility Studio. Newlab will play a central role within the Michigan Central hub as an engine and facilitator of mobility innovation, curating a multidisciplinary and cross-sector ecosystem of early-stage companies, industry partners, investors, and government leaders. Newlab will deploy its membership-based model at the Book Depository building, where Newlab members will join a community with the common mission of advancing the future of mobility, and a shared commitment to collaborative action. Several companies, including Airspace Link, Canopy, Grounded, wheel.me and Cavnue, have joined the Newlab community at Michigan Central.
“As a born-and-raised Michigander who has called Detroit home for years, I’m incredibly proud to help bring Newlab to the city I love, and to catalyze the development of the Michigan Central mobility innovation ecosystem,” said Alisyn Malek, Managing Director, Newlab Detroit. “Detroit and Michigan Central had all the factors we were looking for in our first expansion: a shared ethos, physical assets to enable real-world experimentation, a geography that is poised for significant growth, and a local hard-tech product development talent base that is second to none globally.”
Over the next several years, Newlab and Michigan Central will jointly launch a portfolio of projects aimed at addressing discrete Challenges and to be executed through Newlab’s Mobility Studio. Each Challenge will serve as an organizing principle for new technology pilots, grounded in real-world mobility problems related to sustainability, logistics and equity.
“Our work with Newlab, which began in 2020 with the Accessible Streets and Mobility Studios, has successfully piloted numerous mobility technologies in and for the people of Detroit. As we’ve continued redeveloping the Michigan Central site and building our larger mobility innovation ecosystem, the transformative potential of our partnership with Newlab has remained essential to our project,” said Carolina Pluszczynski, Chief Operating Officer, Michigan Central. “It was clear that fortifying this impactful collaboration is key to realizing our shared aims of enhancing accessibility and equity in Detroit and around the world. We are excited for what’s to come in this next chapter of our work together.”
“Detroit, the beating heart of American ingenuity, is not only the birthplace of manufacturing and the modern automotive industry; it is the place where the next century of mobility innovation will be imagined and built,” said David Belt, Co-Founder, Newlab. “The Book Depository building—designed by the legendary Detroit architect, Albert Kahn—has been empty for 30 years and is an emblem of Detroit’s rich history. Now, Michigan Central and Newlab are excited to breathe new life into the building by laying the foundation for Detroit’s future while paying homage to its past.”
To support its continued growth and impact, Michigan Central counts Ford and Google as key founding partners. As part of this work, Google will also collaborate with Newlab, matching up Newlab entrepreneurs with multi-disciplined Google volunteers to bring the best of Google to startups as they grow at Michigan Central. Launching this year, this program aims to provide entrepreneurs with expertise, resources, and support across areas such as program management, software development, cloud architecture, AI and machine learning, go-to-market strategy, and sales & marketing.
The grand opening of the Book Depository building will take place in Spring 2023, and will be an opportunity to experience the rich building design and celebrate the innovative work underway at Michigan Central.