Book Depository opening highlights next gen mobility innovation
Detroit staked its claim as a center of mobility innovation yesterday with the opening of a hulking new tech incubator in Corktown.
Why it matters: The historic Book Depository's resurrection from a fire-damaged, vacant shell to a cutting-edge innovation hub represents the city's post-bankruptcy ambitions to become a global leader in mobility and electric vehicle adoption.
Driving the news: Five years after Ford Motor acquired the near-derelict building originally designed by Albert Kahn from the Moroun family, it reopened with dozens of companies already at work.
- The 270,000-square-foot former post office branch is now the local headquarters for Newlab, which provides a WeWork-esque office environment for inventors, artists and problem solvers.
- The redesign features high ceilings and large windows throughout, with an extended skylight maximizing natural light into an atrium near the entrance.
What's next: The Book Depository is the first completed building at the 30-acre mobility campus anchored by the Michigan Central Station train depot.
- Tours for the public are expected to start soon.
What they're saying: "The best and the brightest are coming here to invent things to help us with the future that we need," Ford executive chair Bill Ford told a standing-room-only audience gathered for the launch event.
Between the lines: The incubator strives to produce tech-solving, real-world problems — especially transportation-based solutions for cities and neighborhoods.
📸 Here's a snapshot of the companies now working inside the Book Depository:
Elevator pitch: "Google Maps for drones," CEO Michael Healander tells Axios.
- The 50-plus-employee company is developing a traffic management system for unmanned aircraft.
Real-world application: Airspace is working with Beaumont Health to use drones to carry blood samples above a rail line from Birmingham to Royal Oak.
Elevator pitch: "Automating vehicle maintenance with robots and vision, starting with the tire-changing process," CEO Victor Darolfi says.
- RoboTire, headquartered in Plymouth, is moving to Newlab next week to take advantage of the startup ecosystem and connect with other companies.
Real-world application: Its technology can change a set of four tires in about 20 minutes, Darolfi says.
More Detroit stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Detroit.