Wrigley has winner with Global Innovation Center
August 8, 2005
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
There's a bright new
jewel on Chicago's technology skyline. It's the Wrigley Global
Innovation Center at 1132 W. Blackhawk St. It's hard to find,
but it will make Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. tough to beat in today's
intensely competitive global marketplace. In an age where rapid
new product innovation can be decisive, Wrigley's innovation center
gives it an edge.
is one sweet-looking facility, designed by Gyo Obata of Hellmuth,
Obata + Kassabaum, St. Louis, to empower the knowledge workers
who create the innovations.
is another story. Heading east on Division from the Kennedy Expy.,
and then north on North Branch Street, you'll see the dome of
Wrigley's ultra-modern facility come into view. That's when you'll
get the goose bumps, and realize something special is in the area.
workers at work
It's a 193,000-square-foot
facility designed to create an environment that fosters innovation.
Though it won't officially open until mid-September, 240 Wrigley
knowledge workers already occupy the center.
innovation starts with great people," Wrigley spokesman Chris
Perille says. "The building was designed from the ground
up to encourage interaction, collaboration and creativity."
Wrigley is looking for creative sparks that could turn into tomorrow's
market leading products.
To light that
fire, the center features state-of-the-art lab space, a fully
flexible office environment and mobile information technology.
Wrigley senior director of global IT, supervised the center's
technology strategy. He says, "The biggest challenge was
mobility and interconnectivity. Rapid innovation requires teams
to form, collapse and reform as the work changes. That led us
to a fully wireless enabled network, and an IP telephony solution."
flexibility go beyond broadband technology. The center features
a pilot production plant where even the heaviest manufacturing
equipment can be shifted quickly. The goal is total adaptability
with an eye on rapid innovation.
The new Wrigley
innovation center is still a diamond in the rough. The doors aren't
quite open. When it's complete, it will be a global showplace
for what's best in class in new product innovation.
good to chew on. Wonder if they'll give out free samples?
Robert Meltzer had an idea. He saw junior lawyers spending hours
doing non-legal work on immigration cases. He thought there had
to be a better way.
a software program to streamline the process. He took his program
on-line to make the visa process faster, easier and more transparent.
Chicago-based VisaNow was born in December 1999.
the way legal services are delivered," Meltzer says. "Leveraging
the Internet, we deliver services more efficiently."
working in the U.S. need authorizations such as the H-1B visa.
Tech companies need foreign-born engineers. VisaNow helps human
resource departments at companies such as AT&T, Andrew Corp.,
Cingular Wireless and Pitney Bowes.
started VisaNow, applicants typically approached immigration attorneys.
The paper-intensive process could take weeks or even months. Using
on-line processes VisaNow initially reduced that to a matter of
days. Today Meltzer claims he can complete the process in a matter
can beat that," Meltzer says. "At a minimum they have
to deal with FedEx."
employs 25 people. He's backed by Garage Technology Ventures and
U.S. Venture Partners.
Illinois Technology Development Alliance president, and Tom Churchwell,
ARCH Development Partners managing partner, host their August
Monday morning meeting today at Northern Illinois University's
Naperville campus. The event offers entrepreneurs a chance to
test drive their business case in front of friendly prospective
include AIM Wireless Solutions, a maker of technology that reduces
cell-phone noise; Angstrom Technologies, a producer of radiation
detectors, and Pearl Productions, a creator of interactive tourism
and entertainment guides. To have your company considered for
a future Monday Morning Meeting contact Christine Aston at Aston@ITDA.biz.
Krauss is a Chicago-area tech writer and consultant.