2020 Annual Report

mHUB Annual Report

2020 Year in Review

The Future of Innovation is Collaborative

Dear Friends and Supporters,

It is with great honor that we present the 2020 mHUB annual report. This report highlights the heroic efforts of the community and our partner organizations. It is a celebration of collaboration and the selfless sacrifices made to positively impact society in the face of health, humanitarian and economic crises, and our collective focus on a reckoning of the systemic racial inequality and injustice in our country.

For all of us, 2020 will be remembered as an extraordinary year, both in terms of the unprecedented struggles and milestones achieved. On the heels of canceling the 2020 Product Showcase & Demo Day in March, mHUB rallied Chicago’s startup community through the Chicago Proactive Response (CPR) COVID-19 initiative. This defining effort mobilized entrepreneurs, innovators, corporate partners, public health officials and foundations to activate resources that provided much needed economic and medical relief and enabled emerging startups direct access points to build, pivot and scale new technologies that addressed immediate health and humanitarian needs.

As we look forward to 2021, mHUB’s startup, manufacturing and investor communities are poised for another strong year of growth and impact. With the launching of the Product Impact Fund and Accelerated Incubation program we began to address the access to capital gap for hardtech startups and will continue to attract teams from all over the world to join the movement. We will continue to expand Hardtech Development services to provide industry with access to high-skilled talent and much needed supplemental income generating opportunities for entrepreneurs. Additionally, we will double-down on our effort to extend our impact throughout the Chicago community to support a rapid and equitable economic recovery.

With the ongoing support of our broader community, mHUB continues to drive the Midwest forward to lead the next industrial revolution while championing innovators around the world. Join us as we highlight collaboration and what is possible when we come together.

Haven Allen, CEO

Michael Seedman,
Chairman of the Board

Our Mission

To develop an entrepreneurial ecosystem around physical products and hardware innovation and accelerate industry growth by cultivating a community of collaboration and connectivity between innovators, entrepreneurs and manufacturers.

Our Community

mHUB By the numbers

A snapshot of our community and its economic impact in 2020

Revenue Generated

Capital Raised

Patents Awarded

Employees Hired

Products Launched

Manufacturing Production


$70,143,600 Spent


$29,276,950 Spent

Midwest Supply Chain

Percent of Domestic Spend

Tech Concentration by Industry

Member Composition by Discipline

Company Stage

Coming Together

Facing the Pandemic Head-on

Chicago's innovation community jumps into action

When a truly disruptive force like the COVID-19 pandemic altered the trajectories of most people’s lives and businesses, mHUB, MATTER and 1871 launched the Chicago Proactive Response (CPR) COVID-19 initiative, bringing together the region’s tech community to identify solutions to some of biggest challenges caused by COVID-19. Through the initiative, the broader ecosystem was able to jump into action by mobilizing the collective power of more than 1,000 startups who were eager to solve problems for the front lines of the pandemic and beyond.

The initiative was made possible through $1.55M in funding from the generous support of the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust as well as the Walder Foundation and Bank of America. Over 300 technology solutions were identified, including vital PPE and low-cost ventilator alternatives developed by the mHUB community. By shifting focus from business objectives to humanitarian responses, the resulting outcomes illustrate how fast innovation can happen when we break down silos and collaborate.

Our Immediate Response

Highlights of the CPR COVID-19 initiative

mHUB, MATTER and 1871 collaboration launched

Open-source face shield design released, and members produced over 14,000 for donation to regional hospitals, clinics and manufacturing plants

564 rebates provided to support member community as they responded to the front line

60+ volunteers dedicated 4,500+ hours to prototyping and producing vital PPE, respirators, ventilator and sterilization solutions

390+ solutions developed in one month from innovators, volunteers and frontline experts

50 executives, representing 40 organizations, convened to discuss safely reopening the workplace

Three alternative ventilator solutions were developed, using off-the-shelf, low cost parts, and made available to the healthcare community


CPR COVID-19 Case Study

Rapid development of vital PPE for our front lines

Outside thinking has long been known to drive real, collaborative innovation. To address the challenges brought about by the pandemic, the healthcare industry didn’t just need industry veterans with hands-on knowledge, it understood that entrepreneurs and engineers with myriad sector expertise could play a key role. Within mHUB, this meant bringing together innovators from across our ecosystem to simultaneously prototype 10 devices, including a ventilator using off-the-shelf components for cost-effective and rapid development. Here is that story: one that underpins what is possible when we work across areas of expertise and expand our thinking to tackle big problems from the outside in.

Our 1st Response was made possible by:

Staying Together

Startups Continue to Innovate

Extending virtual and financial resources for startups

One of our primary focuses throughout 2020 was to mitigate the impact the pandemic has had on startups and entrepreneurs. mHUB aligned our network of community partners, corporate partners and government partners to deploy resources that supported both the member community as well as non-members within the broader tech ecosystem. Able to sustain a turbulent economic environment, our members continued to innovate and thrive. Many found opportunities to pivot or apply their solutions to new markets.

Member Rebates

Virtual Classes and Events

Growth in Non-Member Professional & Technical Training

Increase in Supplier Network

Financed Volunteer Hours

Startup Stories: Opportunities Uncovered

Startups respond to shifting markets and new product opportunities

"We hit an inflection point in the summer of 2020 with a greater need for work-from-home and e-learning networks. Having mHUB’s support during that time allowed us to scale quickly and bring access to thousands of people every week."

Global connectivity is a problem that CEO and founder Danny Gardner and the Mesh++ team have set out to solve over the last 5 years. Mesh++ is decreasing the cost of WiFi hardware and flash memory to provide better connectivity in a simple, scalable format using solar powered routers that form a mesh-like network.

"The pandemic has generally created positive long-term tailwinds for startups in the food robotics space as consumers are embracing automated retail. But, the pandemic also made us reassess our go-to-market strategy with initial location partners which led to exciting opportunities in residential real-estate. mHUB has been our rock this past year as we continued to iterate on our prototype and successfully fundraise for our 2021 launch."

Zenblen provides freshly-blended, nutritionist curated smoothies via their tech-enabled smoothie bar. The company’s vision is to become the world’s personal smoothie barista and make healthy eating more accessible in everyone’s daily routines.

"Our wearables were initially developed for senior living communities, but when COVID-19 began, we started fielding requests from governments, schools and manufacturers interested in using our product for contact tracing and social distancing. To quickly deliver a solution, we leveraged mHUB’s network of experts for rapid product development, manufacturing at scale and guidance on the import/export of products."

CareBand is a location-based IoT wearable solutions company dedicated to keeping people safe and healthy. CareBand’s patent-pending solutions combine leading communication technologies with machine learning for location tracking and real-time analysis of activity and behavior.

“When the COVID pandemic hit, we realized that the technology we created to assist with heavy patient loads in the neonatal unit could easily translate to the needs of all care units with overstressed systems. As mHUB members we were able to efficiently design, implement, and scale our medical devices in order to reach the patients most in need.”

Neopenda is creating innovative solutions for the world’s most urgent global health challenges. Their first product, neoGuard™, is a clinical vital signs monitor designed to provide high-quality care to neonatal patients in resource-constrained facilities.

Building Together

Startup Stories: Continued Growth

Connectivity, accessibility and job creation

Over the past three decades, startups, alongside growing small and medium sized businesses, have been the driving force of net new job creation for the US economy. The pandemic’s extreme impact on consumer behavior, technology demands and the supply chain has uncovered new market opportunities for entrepreneurs and with a sharper focus on Industry 4.0. mHUB is pleased to highlight member companies that experienced tremendous growth in 2020 as they garnered further recognition for providing pivotal solutions in on-demand manufacturing, wireless technology and solar power.

In 2019, 3D Hubs, an online manufacturing platform that provides engineers with on-demand access to a global network of manufacturers, chose Chicago as its North American headquarters, launching 3D Hubs Manufacturing LLC out of mHUB. Since launching in 2013, 3D Hubs has raised over $30 million and produced more than 6 million parts for over 145,000 engineers in need of rapid prototyping or short production runs. From CNC machining and 3D printing to metal fabrication and injection molding, the 3D Hubs platform became a go-to resource for manufacturers globally. In 2020, the firm generated $25 million in revenue, up from $1 million in 2017. In January 2021, 3D Hubs was acquired by Protolabs for $280 million. Together, the combined organizations create an industry leading solution for custom manufacturing needs across the product lifecycle: from idea to prototype to full end-use production.

The wireless charging movement started with smartphones, and as part of that development the industry established a technology standard for wireless charging called Qi. Unfortunately, Qi had some significant limitations in fostering broader use/adoption. mHUB alumni company NuCurrent sought to expand the separation distance, overall charging volume, and power levels of Qi by leveraging its technology and engineering expertise to drive a higher industry standard. Today, NuCurrent holds 160 patents granted or pending and their wireless power technology is in over 500M devices worldwide. After being named Chicago’s Most Innovative Company by Crain’s Chicago in 2019, NuCurrent CEO Jacob Babcock made the publication’s 40 under 40 list for the class of 2020. NuCurrent's MP-A17 Qi Design Specification won mHUB’s “Innovation of the Year” award at the 2020 Fourth Revolution Awards.

One of the very first mHUB members, Greenlight Planet, is on a mission to deliver energy everyone can afford by powering off-grid families that do not have access to the reliable electric grid. Since its founding in 2009, the company has become a leading global provider of solar-energy products to over 60 million rural consumers in more than 65 countries. From its wide range of trusted Sun King™ solar lamps and home energy systems, to its distribution partnerships and pay-as-you-go financing, Greenlight Planet strives to meet the evolving needs of the off-grid market and is expanding at a rate of over 65,000 solar rooftop installations per month. The company raised $90 million in 2020. Since its founding in 2007, they have raised roughly $160 million, now employing 1,450 full-time staff and over 6,000 sales agents in local markets worldwide.

Partnering to Propel Industry 4.0

Powering hardtech development for manufacturers

mHUB Hardtech Development services connect manufacturers to our rich talent pool of over 500+ highly skilled engineers, designers and developers for outsourced product development and process innovations. These partnerships enhance the region's ability to commercialize innovation while extending the runway for high potential startups. Utilizing the same “outside in” perspective that proved so successful for pandemic related collaborations, this method means cost-effective, rapid development and prototyping for clients. In 2020, mHUB’s Hardtech Development services infused $585,000 of income direct to members while driving the development of 15 new products and over 1,000 new product concepts that supported more than 20 regional small and medium manufacturers.

Revenue generated for members

New product concepts and developments

The Future Together


Welcoming the Industrial IoT cohort

In the summer of 2021, the first cohort of our Accelerated Incubation program will convene in Chicago for a unique, hands-on six-month incubation experience. This includes over $1 million in cash investments for participating teams as well as over $500,000 in product development, resources and programming in exchange for 5% equity with pro rata rights. The program fast-tracks high potential startups through hands-on product development and received nearly 500 applications through a global campaign that closed in December 2020. The final selection of 8 – 10 companies will be announced in the spring of 2021. Upcoming cohorts include Medtech and Smart Mobility.

IIoT Cohort

500 Applications

25% International

Teams Announced Spring 2021

Program Corporate Partners

mHUB's Product Impact Fund

Closing the funding gap for hardtech

mHUB’s accelerator is supported by the mHUB Product Impact Fund I, a $15M venture fund that invests in the accelerator’s seed and early-stage hardtech companies and will be deployed from 2020 to 2023. The fund has garnered significant interest as an opportunity to engage with the wave of innovation that lies ahead in industrial IoT, medtech and smart buildings, to name a few. To date, the Product Impact Fund I has raised $6.93M from 44 LPs who are leaders in industry across entrepreneurship, manufacturing, private equity and venture capital.


Thank You for Being Together

To our partners, team and board


Our Corporate Partners

Become A Partner


  • Haven Allen

    Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder

  • Katrina Armistead

    Hardtech Development Intern

  • Elda Baez

    Events Coordinator

  • Ahnaya Baker

    Urban Alliance Intern

  • Mcauley Banning

    Development and Engagement Associate

  • Chelsea Biggs

    Director of Programs and Engagement

  • Kim Blomquist

    Director of Marketing and Communications

  • Jeremy Borchardt

    Development Manager

  • Quinn Campbell

    Design and Fabrication Specialist

  • Cieana Detloff

    Digital Marketing Manager

  • Jenny Diaz

    Urban Alliance Intern

  • Bill Fienup

    Co-Founder and Director, Innovation Services

  • Jack Gallagher

    Urban Alliance Intern

  • Abel Habtemichael

    Urban Alliance Intern

  • Kate Kelly

    Resource Coordinator

  • James Konsky

    Venture MBA Intern

  • Alex Lambert

    Corporate Development Coordinator

  • Melissa Lederer

    Chief Experience Officer

  • Elizabeth Lemos

    Accounting Manager

  • José Lemus

    Graduate Fellow

  • Emily Lindsey

    Marketing Coordinator

  • Shannon McGhee

    Director of Community Impact and Engagement

  • Manas Mehandru

    Chief Operating Officer

  • Adam Milich

    Building/Facilities Manager

  • David Mirkhaef

    Shop Engineer

  • Maddie Peckus

    Talent Development Coordinator

  • Jhanelle Smith

    Programs and Engagement Coordinator

  • Alexandra Suprise

    Business Development Associate

  • Bianca Thai

    Director of Hardtech Development

  • Thierry Van Landegem

    Executive Director, IIoT Cohort, mHUB Accelerator Program

  • Melissa Villegas

    Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer

  • Heather Walsh

    Executive Director, MedTech Cohort, mHUB Accelerator Program

  • Liese Wareham

    Hardtech Development Intern

  • John Welin

    Shop Director

  • Allison Winstel

    Graduate Fellow

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