June 15--SOUTH BEND -- Catalyst One, one of two buildings that recently opened at Ignition Park, is not a typical office building.
It's starting to fill up with tech workers -- about 70 people already work in the building -- but it's not simply a shelter for desks and cubicles.
The building has a variety of spaces where people can work collaboratively in groups, find some privacy when they need to concentrate or just get a change of scenery without leaving the building.
Catalyst One's furnishings pop with color, and there's even a swing set in the main corridor. At the same time, the building has polished concrete floors and uses reclaimed wood and metals that pay tribute to Ignition Park's history as the former heart of Studebaker's vehicle-manufacturing complex.
"It's a more modern type of work space. It's intended to espouse creativity and be fun," said Brad Toothaker, managing partner for Great Lakes Capital, the South Bend company that developed Catalyst One and its neighbor, Catalyst Two, where the Notre Dame Turbomachinery Laboratory held a grand opening last week.
Toothaker said the concept for Catalyst One was modeled after 1871 -- a business space inside the Merchandise Mart in Chicago that mingles venture capital, technology, and research and development.
Three companies have moved into Catalyst One so far: MicroIntegration moved in at the end of April. Aunalytics and Data Realty moved in May.
MicroIntegration is an information technology company that provides cloud and managed services for businesses, government, schools and other organizations. Founded in 1999, the company previously was located at Union Station Technology Center.
"My grandparents worked right on the Studebaker grounds where we're sitting right now," MicroIntegration President Terry Gour said. "I think it's important for everyone here to know about the innovation that was done here in the past and continue that tradition but, of course, with technology. We're excited to be part of the innovation going forward."
MicroIntegration employs 23 people and has room to grow in its 7,000-square-foot space at Catalyst One. The company has two more employees starting in a few weeks and has several more job openings to fill. Gour said applicants have been impressed with Catalyst One, Ignition Park and MicroIntegration's relationships with the data centers at Data Realty and Union Station.
"This reinforces to them that South Bend is growing, and South Bend is doing the things that they might expect in a bigger city. We can show them what we're doing -- which is a big part of it -- but for them to see the building, for them to see the strategic partners, for them to see the two data centers (at Data Realty and Union Station) really sets us apart and allows us to bring in top-tier people."
Aunalytics and Data Realty are related companies and share about 15,000 square feet inside Catalyst One.
Aunalytics, previously located at the business incubator Innovation Park at Notre Dame, helps organizations find useful insights in vast, disparate sets of data and has developed a platform to analyze large data sets. Data Realty has had a data center at Ignition Park since 2012. The two companies combined employ about 45 people and have plans to hire more.
Gour, of MicroIntegration, said he looks at Aunalytics and Data Realty as strategic partners, and he's looking forward to partnering with other companies that move into Ignition Park.
"Being located in a building where you have other tech companies that do similar, related tech services makes us all more successful," Gour said. "We realize there are a lot of things that we do well, and there are a lot of things that other tech companies do well. Working together can provide the complete solution that customers require."
Some other local companies have announced plans to move to Ignition Park.
--Spectron, which manufactures radiopharmaceuticals for purposes such as cancer diagnoses and heart assessments, announced in March that it plans to move its operations from Dugdale Road, northeast of South Bend's city limits, to a new lab in one of the Catalyst buildings. The $4 million project is expected to create 39 new full-time jobs and support eight existing jobs.
--Emu Technology, a company that develops hardware and software for "big data" analytics, announced in 2014 that it was planning to move to Ignition Park, but co-founder Jay Brockman said last week that Emu will stay put in its current location at Innovation Park at Notre Dame for the foreseeable future. Brockman said Emu has about 15 employees, seven of which are in South Bend, so the space at Innovation Park works well for the company.
--F Cubed -- a biotech firm that develops diagnostic devices and test kits for environmental, food safety, medical and other applications -- previously announced it would move to Ignition Park. Instead, the company's leaders decided to move to another burgeoning South Bend technology hub: the former Studebaker assembly plant that is being renovated along South Lafayette Boulevard in an area called the Renaissance District.