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mHUB Awards Over $250k in Q1 2024 To Underrepresented Founders


Press Contact:
Kim Blomquist 


mHUB Awards Over $250,000 in First Quarter To Support Underrepresented Founders in Product Development  

The mHUB Equity in Innovation Scholarship Program part of the Catalyze Initiative, has awarded product development funding to six startups with underrepresented founders, made possible through congressionally directed spending.


(CHICAGO April 3, 2024) mHUB, one of the nation’s leading independent innovation centers for hardtech development and entrepreneurship, has selected six underrepresented founders for its 2024 Product Development Grant. Each startup will receive a $33,000 grant to directly support product development. Since 2023, mHUB has awarded over $440,000 in non-dilutive dollars and more than $155,000 in sponsored access through the mHUB’s Catalyze Initiative, including $250,000 awarded for product development in Q1 2024 alone. 

By supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs in the earliest stages of product development, Catalyze helps startups take a proof of concept towards commercialization. Programs include granted partnerships with community-based business development organizations, the mPOWER pre-accelerator program for idea-stage founders, the Landis Family HardTech Development Fellowship for product engineers and entrepreneurs, and grants to fuel product development.  

Product Development Grants are part of the Equity in Innovation Scholarship Program, which supports pre-series A companies in product development. An internal committee from mHUB leadership, its technical arm, and its Board of Directors reviewed the competitive landscape of applications and selected six startups for funding. The opportunity was open to mHUB members only. Through its recent move to 1623 W. Fulton Street and its Catalyze Initiative, the organization has grown a general membership population of which 53% of members have one or more underrepresented founder(s).  

“mHUB is committed to investing in historically underrepresented founders by removing barriers at the earliest stages of the startup journey,” said Shannon McGhee, mHUB Vice-President of Programs and Engagement. “These grants and other sources of non-dilutive funding are a critical part in bridging the capital access gap for marginalized entrepreneurs, and particularly for those building physical products.” 

Both pre-investment and post-investment companies were selected for funding, though the majority of awards went to companies which are pre-investment. The six awardees for Product Development Grants include: 

  • Construction Assembly Solutions (CAS)- developing a system of wall frames (the MEP RI Module) that, in addition to being part of a building’s frame, serve as placement guides for components installed by plumbers, electricians, and mechanical contractors.  
  • Arke Inc- developing eVenture, a retrofit drivetrain designed to transform pedal bicycles into smart eBikes.
  • Asoncer-  developing weightlifting belt with smart sensors paired with an app to guide proper form and prevent injuries.  
  • Blip Energy- piloting an accessible home battery with features currently only found in luxury home installs, such as IOT connectivity and smart energy management based on grid factors. 
  • Curiva- developing diaPatchTM, a patent-pending diagnostic patch for rapid, high-accuracy, and non-invasive detection of cervical cancer. 
  • Hive Soundz- building a Bluetooth speaker for customizable sound adventures and building immersive soundscapes. 

These Product Development Grants were funded as part of a FY23 $921,000 federal earmark mHUB received with support from Senator Tammy Duckworth. The congressionally directed spending supported mHUB's Catalyze Initiative with funding for product development services, sponsored access to mHUB's resources for more than 30 founders, and expanded technical assistance resources. mHUB plans to scale this pilot with future grant opportunities made possible by additional partners in 2024.  

Eager to join an entrepreneurial community committed to the growth and success of underrepresented founders? Learn more about mHUB membership and the Catalyze initiative.  

About mHUB    

mHUB is a leading independent hardtech and manufacturing innovation center that exists to convene the entrepreneurial ecosystem around physical product innovation to ensure that the manufacturing industry continues to accelerate, grow, and thrive. The mHUB community includes over 500 active and alumni startups and small businesses supported by a deep talent pool of product designers and developers, entrepreneurs, engineers and manufacturers, corporate leaders, industry experts, mentors, and investors. mHUB provides a hyper-resourced environment to entrepreneurs with the goal of commercializing new hardtech innovation that will lead to new businesses, intellectual property, investment, revenue, and job creation. Since launching in 2017, the mHUB community has generated more than $1.57B in revenue, launched more than 1,600 products, hired more than 5,500 employees, and raised over $1.89B in capital. To date, mHUB has invested in 46 startups across sustainable manufacturing, climate and energytech, and medtech.