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Connecting for innovation

Bosch is investing nearly $2 million in the project and is partnering with incubator 1871

Chicago's historic Merchandise Mart provides a 19,000 foot facility for IoT innovation
Chicago's historic Merchandise Mart provides a 19,000 foot facility for IoT innovation

Bosch and the technology incubator, 1871, are launching a new Internet of Things (IoT) innovation co-creation space in Chicago.


The Chicago Connectory is located in the historic Merchandise Mart. It provides a 19,000 square-foot facility where start-up organisations, corporations and universities will collaborate through membership, programming and strategic partnerships to create IoT solutions and business models.


The Connectory features a mix of community, technology and educational resources to help facilitate IoT partnerships. Community resources will include access to mentors from Bosch, 1871, faculty from Chicago-area universities such as the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), Northwestern University and DePaul University, and executives from local corporations.


The Connectory, which was designed by Whitney Architects with support from Barbara Pollack and Associates, features open working spaces, project collaboration areas as well as space to host regular events and activities. On-going educational opportunities include IoT workshops, innovation challenges and hackathons.


Bosch, which invested nearly $2 million to help launch the project, estimates that the global volume of the IoT market will grow 35 per cent annually to 250 billion dollars by 2020. In 2016, Bosch sold 27 million web-enabled products and by 2020, all new electronic products from Bosch will feature connectivity.


In 2016 it launched its own IoT cloud and the Bosch IoT Suite connects and manages more than five million devices around the world. Of the more than 20,000 software engineers employed by Bosch, around 4,000 of them focus solely on the Internet of Things.


“Realising the possibilities of IoT will require open partnerships within the technology community to overcome barriers and drive innovation,” said Mike Mansuetti, president of Robert Bosch. “The Chicago Connectory provides a platform for start-ups, corporations and universities to collaborate, explore and dream how IoT can bring new benefits to society and business throughout the world.


"For Bosch, it’s another example of how we encourage an outside-in philosophy in order to promote innovation and entrepreneurship within the company.”


Bosch and 1871 will be actively involved in the Connectory. Bosch will offer technical resources including a cross-domain development kit (XDK) and sensors such as accelerometers and barometric pressure sensors for IoT development. A maker space meant for smaller prototyping will feature Bosch power tools and 3D printers.


Bosch will also provide mentorship from teams and leaders on topics in manufacturing, software engineering and commercialisation. 1871 will provide access to its 1,000 events each year, innovation days programming that matches start-ups with corporate companies, access to the 1871 mentor network of more than 500 professionals, and workshops on business and technology topics.


An internal corporate team from Bosch is utilising the Connectory space to conduct co-creation sprints with two local start-ups to identify proofs of concept using bot and data-simplifying technologies. Earlier this year, the start-ups were matched with Bosch through an 1871 innovation day programme.


The Chicago Connectory is holding a grand opening open house event on 18 May.


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