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High-tech incubator in Naperville offering student summer camps, plans to open in September

Jun 4, 2018
In The News

An innovation hub already is drawing young, tech-savvy talent to the Naperville area to design the machines of the future.

The new high-tech incubator along the Interstate 88 high-tech corridor, known as Hub88, is on schedule to officially open sometime in September, said Glenn Luckinbill, one of organizers.

Kids, however, are getting an early chance to experience what Hub88 has in store for them this summer.

Innovation hub organizers are pushing forward with a concept to transform a 200,000-square-foot section of the Nokia campus at Naperville and Warrenville roads in Naperville into an incubator for high-tech start-ups.

Luckinbill said since the March announcement of Hub88, he’s been approached by several property owners in Warrenville about the possibility of locating the incubator at their sites.

The advantage of the Nokia site, he said, is the ability for entrepreneurs, like him, to leverage Nokia's emerging 5G technologies.

For the average household consumer, 5G means people can download movies or games faster, stream live events without delays, or drive autonomous cars.

It’s even more critical to operate the multi-robotic products being designed by Luckinbill’s Aurora-based Swarm Robotix, which he founded and serves as CEO. Luckinbill plans to move Swarm Robotix into Hub88.

Not only would the incubator space be a home for entrepreneurs, it’s view it as a chance for students from kindergarten through college to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as STEM, Luckinbill said.

Starting in July, Hub88 will offer summer STEM camps for kids.

Luckinbill said interest in the camps has been overwhelming, though a few openings are still available in the camps. Parents can learn how to register their kids when the Hub88 website goes online next week, he said.

Hub88 organizers also want to work with neighboring school districts to develop curriculum that prepares students to work in emerging technology fields. Eventually students could get a shot at working alongside Hub88 entrepreneurs on projects.

Swarm Robotix this summer hired 45 college students and 15 high school students, Luckinbill said.

With Nokia technology professionals, the interns are developing robots that can lift and move containers around shipping or rail yards and load them onto truck chassis.

This week the students shared their progress with U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, who visited the Nokia site on Thursday. Foster, a scientist by profession, grilled the interns about the function of their design and offered suggestions for improvement.

The work is a continuation of a project fielded last summer by 14 high school seniors recruited by Luckinbill from the three Indian Prairie District 204 high schools and Oswego High School because they had experience in the design, construction and testing of robotics through their school clubs or a VEX Robotics program.

If his summer internship is successful, Luckinbill said the plan is to add more interns and sites across the country each year, eventually hiring 25,000 high school and college interns for Swarm Robotix in a few years.

Luckinbill said at that point, he see the summer internship becoming a competition among locations where interns have to develop robots who achieve a task.

The focus of Hub88 is on emerging technologies, such as robotics, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, computer cameras and sensors drones, he said.

Beside areas for entrepreneurial collaboration, organizers want to provide space for advanced manufacturing labs with heavy equipment like 3-D printing, laser cutting, a wood shop and metal shop so developers can create prototypes.