Laying the Foundation for Michigan Central: Ford Collaborates with Newlab on Mobility Innovation Studios

Ford’s Corktown development, anchored around the historic Michigan Central Station, plans to establish a new mobility innovation district in Detroit’s oldest neighborhood. 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.

To further this vision, Ford today announced it will collaborate with Newlab​, the innovation hub in the Brooklyn Navy Yard that is home to over 800 engineers, entrepreneurs, and inventors. 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. 

Michigan Central and Newlab will launch two new innovation studios focused on mobility that will ultimately live within the district. A corporate studio 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 the train 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​. “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 apply transformative technologies to things that matter.​ 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 existing 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 Roadpo​wer 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.”

Julie Roscini and Shaun Stewart will hold a virtual, live-streamed fireside chat, tomorrow, June 26 as part of Detroit Startup Week. The discussion will cover the mobility innovation studios and how they will involve the Detroit and Michigan startup and tech community. To join, please click here.

Michigan Central, and other campus transformation projects in Dearborn and globally, continue to be important as they are preparing the company for another century of innovation and success and are critical to delivering on our long-term business plan.

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