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Meet Sally Haertl of mHUB Chicago

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sally Haertl.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Sally. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
mHUB began after World Business Chicago convened an advisory council of manufacturing leaders to further Mayor Emanuel’s Regional Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs. The council was tasked with charting a course toward the next great era of Chicagoland manufacturing. Through several studies and surveys, the group determined that a manufacturing incubator would be a critical component to maintaining Chicago’s leadership in product innovation and manufacturing.

The council selected Catalyze Chicago to serve as a partner for mHUB in its mission to create a vibrant, inventive community that would create breakthrough products and boost the local economy. Catalyze was chosen based on its track record as a successful product development incubator. In just two years, Catalyze went from a small group of like-minded entrepreneurs who saw a need for a shared prototyping space with business support, to a community of nearly 200 people whose members launched 58 products, filed 80 patents, and sold 3.85 million units of product, resulting in $57 million in sales and more than 80 jobs.

With an expanded state-of-the-art space, a larger member community and access to even more resources and new manufacturing partners, mHUB members and partners will produce exceptional products and sustainable businesses.

Has it been a smooth road?
We are pleased with the success of mHUB since our Grand Opening at the beginning of March. When we began construction in August of 2016, we had 50 members who transitioned to mHUB with us from Catalyze. We started 2017 with 100 members and are now fortunate to have a member community of 250 members!

The road to community growth was not always easy, especially when mHUB was under construction. Our staff and founding members experienced noise, dust, temperature changes, and power supply outages related to the buildout. However, these hiccups brought our community closer together, and we relied on each other for support and flexibility as we navigated through the transition. The other obstacle we faced during that time was building our community with a limited staff. We ended 2016 with only seven full-time employees. We’ve grown our team to twelve full-time employees, but we still feel like we are operating as a startup ourselves!

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the mHUB Chicago story. Tell us more about the business.
mHUB is Chicago’s innovation center focused on physical product development and manufacturing. It is home to ten fabrication labs, including electronics, plastic fabrication, metals and rapid prototyping as well as a microfactory for small production runs. Mayor Rahm Emanuel calls the project, “the final piece of the manufacturing puzzle” as mHUB galvanizes and connects the manufacturing ecosystem which includes long-time manufacturers, universities rich with research and talent, the entrepreneurial community made up of makers and technologists, and investors who are eager to support new businesses emerging in this sector and region. Together, we will ensure that the industry will be driven by innovation, infused with world-class talent, and rewarded with productivity and profit.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
One of the biggest trends we see in manufacturing innovation is the fusion of digital and physical products. Most of mHUB’s companies make IoT products/connected devices. Consumers are interested in not only digital apps like UBER or GrubHub but smart devices than can translate the data and measurements from their daily lives into action— think of the Apple watch or a Fitbit. We are seeing breakthroughs in emerging technologies such as robotics, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence.

mHUB has partnered with IMEC and UI LABS on the Fourth Revolution Awards, which will be held this fall to honor these types of advancements and manufacturing innovation in the Chicago region. To learn more visit:


  • $300 for standard co-working membership

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Sean Su of Cloudspotter
Gregory Rothstein
Rena Naltsas

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