Ian Charnas

Sears think[box]

Students assemble acrylic box at Sears think[box]
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Supporting innovation

I joined Case Western Reserve University in 2011 to help start Sears think[box], a makerspace and incubator that is free and open to the public. If you have an idea for a startup, here you’ll find everything you need to go to market, from high-tech prototyping facilities to business and legal resources.

By the numbers

Since opening, this 7-story, 50,000 square foot facility has exploded in popularity and now receives over 6,000 visits a month. Startup companies at think[box] and associated campus entities have raised over $12 million and include ventures in medical devices, green energy, consumer electronics, robotics, and more.

A leader in the field

Sears think[box] has become a global leader in innovation centered makerspaces. Leadership including myself have mentored over 200 universities and schools as they start similar spaces, and in 2017 we hosted ISAM, the International Symposium on Academic Makerspaces.

Celebrity maker visits

This center for innovation has attracted a number of notable visitors, including Apple Co-Founder Steve Woznak, Adam Savage of Mythbusters, Joe Sargent of Google X, Dale Dougherty of Maker Media, and the band OK GO.

My role in all of this

As a co-founder of think[box], I have been invited to speak on makerspaces at NASA, the National Science Foundation, MakerCon, and the 2017 Inaugural Lecture at the University of Guatemala.

As a consultant, I have helped Intel and other companies build makerspaces around the world.

I was also fortunate to be invited by MIT to become a founding member of the Higher Education Makerspace Initiative – along with members from Stanford, Yale, CMU, Olin, and other notable institutions.

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Thanks to the staff, faculty, and student workers at Sears think[box] along with our incredible donors and university leaders, without whom this entrepreneurial ecosystem would never have left the drawing board.

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