Northwestern Mutual announced the grand opening of its innovation lab, Cream City Labs, located at the company’s downtown Milwaukee headquarters.
The lab is designed to advance innovation, ideation and experimentation for employees and community partners, including local startups.
“Cream City Labs demonstrates our commitment to providing our employees with skills, opportunities and space to innovate and embrace an entrepreneurial mindset as we work to transform how people experience financial security,” said Karl Gouverneur, vice president of digital workplace, corporate solutions and head of digital innovation at Northwestern Mutual. “The lab enables our employees to connect with digital innovators and creative thinkers both within and outside of the organization, driving innovation forward both in our company and our community.”
The 17,000-square-foot lab provides a collaborative and creative space that encourages new ways of thinking to deliver a leading digital experience for the company’s clients and financial advisors. In addition to physical space, Northwestern Mutual has a dedicated digital innovation program, which includes initiatives such as an internal venture fund, hackathons and ideation campaigns, that has generated more than $100 million in business value since its inception nearly a decade ago.
The innovation lab is open to all employees and provides workspace for students and faculty in the Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute. It also houses Cream City Venture Capital portfolio companies to provide access to Northwestern Mutual mentors, technologists and business resources as they grow their startups.
“Cream City Labs represents the next step in our company’s innovation journey as we continue to accelerate our creative planning and experimentation to secure a competitive advantage in a rapidly changing industry,” said Gouverneur.
Cream City Labs also includes a dedicated space for mentoring, design thinking and innovation focused events such as hackathons, meetups, STEM programming and training workshops to help advance innovation and technology in southeastern Wisconsin.
The lab’s industrial design pays tribute to the company’s southeastern Wisconsin roots with Milwaukee landmark themed conference rooms and the use of reclaimed and repurposed local materials, including furniture and wood from family-owned farms in Wisconsin.