The latest company to join the growing roster of tenants at the PlanetM Landing Zone in Detroit is one you’ve likely not heard of but one that has been a part of your life for decades.
That company is Molex Electronic Technologies, LLC, a manufacturer of electronic connections in a multitude of industries, including consumer and home appliances, automotive and Smartphones and mobile devices. The Illinois-based company was instrumental in the development of the first car radio, the first cell phone and the first high definition TV.
And now, Molex, with an eye on making further inroads in the emerging mobility and autonomous vehicle sectors, has taken up office space in the Landing Zone, a collaboration between the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Michigan Economic Development Corp.
Located in the WeWork Merchant’s Row location in downtown Detroit, the Landing Zone offers startups subsidized work space and access to key services, potential customers, partners and stakeholders in the mobility and autonomous vehicle ecosystem, OEMS and Tier 1 suppliers. Some 27 startups are now using space at the Landing Zone.
“We’re the company nobody’s heard of but we’ve been around a long time. This is a great opportunity for us,” says Kevin M. Kardel, director of corporate strategy for Molex Electronic Technologies, LLC, which also has offices in suburban Detroit. “This really helps get us to connected to what’s happening in the industry.”
Molex, he says, is looking for ways to connect with startups and other companies in the mobility and autonomous vehicle ecosystems and help build out electronic capability. The company’s recent acquisition of Laird CVS, which specializes in the design, development and delivery of vehicle antenna systems and vehicle connectivity devices, further enhances Molex’s capabilities in those emerging sectors. Communication capabilities will play a key role in their development and success on the streets and highways of the real world.
“There are a lot of pieces of the ecosystem,” Kardel says. “We’re looking for any potential technologies we can leverage through being in that (Detroit) space. We thought the Landing Zone would offer great networking and a great opportunity to plug into that ecosystem and see how other players are operating in that space and get to know them.”
The Laird acquisition came just after Molex moved into the Landing Zone in September. It’s part of the expanding landscape at the Landing Zone. Another tenant, Condor Detroit, was recently acquired by Mobiliti, which now has its headquarters in the office space and 15 full-time employees. The companies offer month-to-month car subscription services.
Molex is a welcome addition to the Landing Zone and adds to the caliber of startups and companies taking advantage of the space, says Devon O’Reilly, manager of Entrepreneurship and Detroit Engagement for the Detroit Regional Chamber.
“It’s a huge plus to have a company like Molex as part of the space because it helps to validate what we’re doing here,” Reilly says. “Molex’s interest in being in the Landing Zone space and working alongside some of the top mobility startups in the world is exactly the kind of natural ecosystem we are trying to create through our mix of members and corporate partners. It definitely helps us build traction and show there is an interest beyond the traditional automotive cluster.”