MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – New ideas of all shapes and sizes can be found inside the walls of the Innovate Marquette SmartZone. The collaborative space is an incubator for high-tech innovation in the region spanning over five different types of ideas with the goal of offering valuable and accessible resources to innovators, entrepreneurs, and business owners all under one roof.
“Before you had to go to a lot of different places for different services,” Joe Thiel, CEO of Innovate Marquette said. “I’ve traveled to many innovation hubs or startup ecosystems like this around the country and around the world and they’re all located in a central hub. That’s what a SmartZone is so this is really created by the state through MEDC for tech innovation development where we create hubs or hubs zones, and all that documentation has created a facility like this and with all the required partners, so someone who has an idea can come to one location and get all of the services.”
Various ideas in all different stages are being cultivated at the SmartZone, including a desk that you can wear.
“This particular project is called ‘Free Motion’ and I work at a desk a lot so I started looking at how I can improve my health when working,” Brian Janowski, Free Motion said. “I looked at a standing desk because standing really has a lot more benefits than sitting in a chair. As I looked at standing desks I thought I really want to do more than just stand, I really want the ability to move around while I am working. So essentially I have a tray that’s waist-mounted, and it allows you to control your keyboard and mouse while you’re moving around the room.”
Even students at Northern Michigan University are taking advantage of the collaborative opportunities.
“Myself and another NMU student were co-founders of this incredibly new and technically advanced paddleboard and sea scooter we call it so it’s we’ve coined it the ‘VersaQuest Vision,” Henry Westlind, VersaQuest Vision said. “It is a dual-purpose paddleboard and sea scooter and the entire deck of the board is coated in thin-film flexible solar panels, which charge the onboard battery pack. When the user sees something cool on the bottom of the lake, they can actually remove the sea scooter and use it to go scuba diving underwater. Now that when you’re out paddleboarding, you can go a lot further and see a lot more super cool experiences out there.”
Innovate Marquette is looking to put the city on the map as a place for innovation and business development with its wide variety of resources and connections.
“We have a small team that is very knowledgeable, very experienced and whenever you’re feeling down or feeling like you can’t get this idea off the ground, we have the resources, knowledge, and the connections to help you in any way you see fit,” Westlind said.
“The staff here help with not only just the design but there’s also the marketing staff and they’ve been very helpful with developing logos for one of the other projects and just giving tremendous amounts of feedback that I get on different projects,” Janowski said. “They bring a lot of experience from various industries and it’s just always great to have other people that you can bounce ideas off of and just cultivate and move projects forward.”
For more on the Innovate Marquette SmartZone, click here.