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From startups to century-old businesses, how is Cleveland innovating for the next 100 years?

Manufacturing has always defined Cleveland and the way it does business. As Industry 4.0 continues to evolve, that dynamic continues to hold true.

When John Nottingham and John Spirk founded their eponymous firm in 1972, the goal was to create a launching pad for breakthrough innovation that would change the way the world works. Innovators would enter with ideas and exit with bold strategies to bring their inspirations to life. Over the past 50 years, Nottingham Spirk has lived up to that dream, securing over 1,300 patents for its clients. It’s a remarkable testament to the power of the imagination and what can happen when creative ideas are given room to not just breathe, but thrive.

Now, their life’s work has entered a new phase. The EY-Nottingham Spirk Innovation Hub (EYNSIH) combines Nottingham Spirk’s design, engineering and product development offerings with the global EY organization’s strategy and commercialization capabilities and EY wavespace™ network. The reimagined space opened its doors last October and is already bringing in 50 to 100 people every week from some of the largest companies in the world, says EY Global Advanced Manufacturing Leader Jerry Gootee.

From concept to execution, we’re able to help our clients move with speed and at scale to turn breakthrough ideas into real and tangible solutions and outcomes.

“These companies are coming to the Hub to tackle the biggest challenges and opportunities in manufacturing,” Gootee says. “From concept to execution, we’re able to help our clients move with speed and at scale to turn breakthrough ideas into real and tangible solutions and outcomes.”

Building on a legacy

Industry 4.0 is here in the form of rapidly evolving digital technology that not only changes the way products are made and developed, but enables companies to track materials throughout the supply chain. Industry 4.0 is artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML); it’s digital twins, e-mobility, circular economy and innovations that have yet to be conceived. And it’s all happening in Cleveland, which has a rich history of innovation and entrepreneurship that dates back more than 150 years to the days of John D. Rockefeller, Charles F. Brush and Garrett A. Morgan. These business pioneers fueled an industrial revolution in Cleveland, paving the way for generations of daring leaders willing to take risks and put their reputations on the line in the name of progress.

Now, it can happen all over again at the Hub. The EYNSIH is an immersive experienced enabled by EY wavespace. The historical 60,000-square-foot facility is equipped with cutting-edge technology that gives clients the tools, the time and the space to hyperfocus on a problem or opportunity. Solutions can be modeled and prototyped rapidly and then deployed in the real world.

“The Hub is about commercializing innovation,” Gootee says. “At most companies, 5% to 10% of their intellectual property gets commercialized. At the Hub, 95% of what we work on gets to market to get commercialized.”

Meeting an urgent need

Manufacturing has made significant strides in recent years remaking itself as an industry. But transformation is a complex process that relies on strong interdependencies between technology and humans and between functions and departments. Companies fail when they try to work around legacy systems, deploy poorly suited off-the-shelf technologies and don’t properly plan for the change management necessary to succeed.

“There is an opportunity for Cleveland and the surrounding areas as companies add resiliency to their supply chains to be one of the leaders in helping companies bring their supply chains back on shore,” Gootee says. “We have the people, the innovation and the capital resources for companies to make investments in capacity and in manufacturing.” Through the EYNSIH, Cleveland has the opportunity to accelerate momentum toward Industry 4.0.

Nottingham Spirk Co-President and Co-Founder John Nottingham is confident that the Hub can play an integral role in helping companies across all industries realize their ambitious visions.

“By bringing together people, software and hardware into a real-world production environment, we can help leaders visualize and experience customer-centric solutions,” Spirk says. “There’s no better or faster way to turn great ideas into everyday business realities.”

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