Rev3 Innovation Center finds new home in NIU's Naperville campus

DuPage County’s manufacturing technology innovation center has found a home. Rev3 Innovation Center, the suburban-based business incubator being supported by the county’s economic development group Choose DuPage, is starting itself up within the Northern Illinois University’s Naperville Campus at 1120 E. Diehl Road. The center will lease a total of 9,500 square feet from the university to set up shop and grow Rev3’s vision of becoming the county’s premiere place to help entrepreneurs develop and grow new businesses in the manufacturing and technology industries.

The center recently opened about 3,500 square feet of the facility as a shared space area, which provides desk space and facilities for members to work and collaborate, according to Nic Zito, Choose DuPage business development director, who is spearheading the Rev3 initiative. In addition to the shared space area, a fully-equipped teleconference room that can accommodate up to 55 people is open to provide Rev3’s upcoming classes, conferences and meetups.

Over the next several months, the group will convert the remaining 6,000 square feet of space into shared and private office space and collaboration areas to meet the needs of its membership.

The focal point of the new facility, however, will be the laboratory that will house the equipment and tools needed for new start ups to develop their products. Bryan Gay, Choose DuPage economic development director, said the lab will eventually house a metal shop, wood shop and electronics lab.

The lab will be just off Rev3’s main entrance, and a floor-to-ceiling window will be installed to view the budding new businesses at work.

“You’ll be able to look in and see the work happening,” Gay said. “You can see our entrepreneurs starting their businesses.”

The offices, shared work areas and conferences rooms will be built out in a fashion that will allow Rev3 members to interact with each other, share knowledge and help one another in developing ideas into businesses. Zito and Gay point out the goal is to provide entrepreneurs and start up businesses in the suburbs with the services and collaboration that incubators in Chicago offer without having to go downtown.

“The idea is getting the community in here and using the space ... collaborating together in these groups,” Gay said. “This is the first of its kind in the suburbs where people can just get together, talk shop and get their work done.”

Rev3’s interest has grown since its start earlier this year, Zito notes. The center currently has 10 members, but has drawn interest from hundreds since it began holding meetups throughout the county to get the word out.

Now that Rev3 has a place to call home, Zito expects more people who expressed interest to sign up. Likewise, Gay adds the facility will also help Rev3 in expanding its list of corporate supporters beyond it current number of 30.

“It was kind of a chicken-and-egg thing,” Gay said. “Now we have the space and we’re ready to go.

“Now that they can get in here, they can touch it, they can see it and I think we’ll be getting a lot of traction from it,” he added.

Membership in Rev3 starts at $200 a month for a shared desk and additional amenities such access to Rev3 programs and meeting space, a mailbox with a Rev3 address and answering services. A private desk is $350 a month. Once the lab is open, Zito said, rates will be $350 a month for shared space and $450 a month for a private desk. Private office space will range from $800 to $1,000 a month.

And, although Rev3 is based and supported by DuPage County, you don’t have to be a DuPage County resident to become a member.

“We’re not going to exclude you if you’re from Lake County or anywhere else,” Zito said. “The goal is to foster business growth within DuPage County, but it’s not county-exclusive.”

This article was originally published on Daily Herald Business Ledger.

NewsMonica Kucera