Accenture has expanded its mHub-located Chicago Innovation Hub, and added a new Industry X.0 studio (also called a “Forge”), which the company said, in a press release, will help clients accelerate development of new smart-connected products and services, ranging from months to weeks.

“Chicago is a manufacturing powerhouse and at our new Forge, we will help our clients create product innovations at speed and at scale,” said Jim Coleman, senior managing director at Accenture in a press release. “By calling mHUB our home, we’re able to tap into their state-of-the-art facilities and vibrant, entrepreneurial mindset, which is critical in today’s business environment.”

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Industry X.0 works with businesses by combining emerging, connected, and smart technologies to digitally transform industry. Transformations may occur in the workforce, in customer experience, R&D, engineering, manufacturing, business support, or even ecosystem. The new studio is equipped with both software and hardware engineering to fuse design, software engineering, hardware engineering, as well as industry expertise.

According to Accenture, only 13% of businesses have realized the full impact of their digital investments, enabling them to achieve cost savings and create growth. The optimal mix of technologies could save large companies up to $16 billion.

“Our clients … are under tremendous pressure to continuously innovate,” said senior managing director at Accenture, Pallavi Verma, in a release. “The new Industry X.0 studio, which we call a ‘Forge,’ is part of our ongoing investment in Chicago and our efforts to bring continuous innovation to our clients.”

In July 2019, Accenture announced it would increase the footprint of its Chicago Innovation Hub located in the 500 West Madison building (renamed the Accenture Tower), and add 600 highly skilled tech jobs as well as significantly grow its apprentice program.

mHub is the US’ largest physical-product center, which helps early-stage innovators go from prototype to product to sustainable business. The 63,000-square-foot facility has 10 fabrication labs, focusing on electronics, plastic fabrication, metals, textiles and rapid prototyping, as well as a microfactory for small production runs.

The mHub building seems like an ideal location for Accenture’s Industry X.0, as it originally housed Motorola Mobility’s prototyping center, but the manufacturing connections at 965 W. Chicago Avenue run even deeper; in 1916, it was home to the Milwaukee Iron and Metal Company, and neighboring businesses included a washing machine manufacturer and the Werner piano factory. Throughout the decades, the area has played an integral role in Chicago’s manufacturing industry.

“No organization today can afford to work 12 to 18 months on an innovation as practiced traditionally,” said Craig McNeil, of Accenture’s Industry X.0, in a press release. “At a Forge, we practice speed to value, meaning we can collapse the innovation timeline to five to six weeks. This is because design, software, hardware and industry professionals – many of which came to us through acquisitions, like Nytec, Pillar Technology and Mindtribe – all work at the same table. A Forge lets them tap the entire stack of equipment and methods needed to take ideas from sketch to final product.”

The Innovation Hub in Chicago is part of a network of 11 Accenture Innovation Hubs in North America, with other locations in Atlanta; Boston; Columbus, Ohio; metro Detroit; Houston; New York; San Francisco; Seattle; Toronto; and metro Washington, D.C. The hubs are connected to more than 100 Accenture locations worldwide.

Accenture currently operates Industry X.0 in Columbus, Ohio; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Des Moines, Iowa; and Jefferson, Iowa. More are planned to open across the United States and in Asia in the coming 12 months.

Accenture Tower in Chicago.