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Newlab to Open Two Mobility Studios in Ford’s Michigan Central

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Ford Michigan Central Newlab studios
Photo: Ford

Ford Motor Company’s Corktown-based mobility innovation district, Michigan Central, is teaming up with Newlab to launch a pair of collaboration studios focused on developing new mobility solutions. The partnership leverages the latter’s proven studio model, which brings together individual innovators with leaders and experts to collaborate on addressing global challenges.

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In 2018, Ford finalized a deal to purchase 1.2 million square feet in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit, including the long-abandoned Michigan Central Station. The goal is to redevelop the purchased property into a sprawling campus with the station serving as the centerpiece. Ford hopes that Michigan Central, which is on track to open in 2022, will attract up-and-coming talent and young entrepreneurs to collaborate on issues of mobility.

“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 Newlab CEO Shaun Stewart. “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.”

Michigan Central Newlab studios will focus on macro, micro

The studios resulting from the partnership between Michigan Central and Newlab will open for business prior to the completion of Michigan Central. The first, set to launch this summer, will focus on larger mobility issues including those of connectivity, electrification, and autonomous vehicles. The second studio will rein in the focus to the more immediate needs of Detroit communities.

Both studios will leverage Newlab’s community of 155 startups, including the likes of Optimus Ride, maker of the first autonomous shuttle service in New York. Newlab CEO Stewart is particularly familiar with autonomous vehicle development having previously built Waymo, Google X’s self-driving vehicle subsidiary.

Ford notes that Newlab has a collective valuation of more than $2.6 billion, including over $400 million in recent acquisitions.

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