Red Bull Creation brings makers and more to Detroit 

Innovation gives Detroit wings

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When you think of Red Bull, you might think of a syrupy energy drink that mixes well with Jager. Or you might think of Eastern Market’s House of Art sponsored by the beverage giant. Or perhaps air races come to mind. In fact, there are seemingly hundreds of events, sports, hell, even people that the company has its name attached to around the world and right here at home. Red Bull Creation, now in its fourth year, is another event sponsored by the company and for the first time ever, it’s going to be held in Detroit.

A 72-hour competition to create and innovate, Creation plays host to the country’s best makers, hackers, builders, and inventors who come together to solve a problem. To qualify, teams were required to submit the theory of an achievable project that would address a specific need in their community, be it something as grandiose as a world-changing innovation or something as simple as a fun and interesting place. Seven teams were chosen by Red Bull to participate in Creation, including i3Detroit and OmniCorpDetroit, with a “house team” from Recycle Here giving the host city the advantage of being home to three of the seven teams. The four subsequent teams are Tactical Urbanists from San Diego, the Maker Twins from Phoenix, and MB Labs from Chicago. 

Previously held in Brooklyn, this year Creation will be held at Detroit’s Recycle Here facilities, and the event’s creators clearly drew from the city’s biggest industry when deciding on 2014’s theme. “Reinventing the Wheel” is purposefully broad, giving teams the chance to create and innovate with few restrictions. With the official announcement coming at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, July 8, teams found out only hours before their three-day summit began. 

When we called up Sean Denny from the participating team from i3Detroit last week, he didn’t yet know what the theme would be. And while he was anxious for time to first speed up for the announcement to arrive and then subsequently slow down once the 72 hours began, he and his teammates were preparing by creating kits of anything they might possibly need, from machinery as big as motors and pumps to smaller tools. In fact, even decor was being included in their preparation, in case the theme required something along the lines of, say, a steampunk design. 

With four people on each team, Denny says only those people are allowed to touch tools and actually build. But knowledge and advice can be drawn from a limitless number of sources. The team will get little sleep in the 72 hours, just enough to functionally operate power tools. Once the time is up, the design will be considered not only by a panel of judges, but also by the people of Detroit. All creations will be shown at the Division Street in Eastern Market, where votes can be cast for the people’s choice award. 

Chosen by the judges, one team will return to their hack space with a $10,000 prize along with their invention. The money can be used in whatever way they see fit, whether it’s to further and perfect the invention or to go on vacation. 

The invention will also serve as a touchstone for these collectives to showcase what they’re capable of. I3Detroit participated last year and Denny says parts of that invention have continued to live on. While it remains unknown what the team will create, it’s safe to say it will find a home in Detroit one way or another. 

“We want to show we can do big things,” Denny says, noting that the national attention is good for the team, as well as the collective as a whole. Of course, bringing the summit to Detroit is good for the city as well, considering the resurgence and renaissance many neighborhoods are experiencing. 

Denny adds that the Recycle Here space will offer some inspiration.

“It’s an interesting urban environment,” he says. 

Denny is also excited for what the other teams will bring and create.

“They’ve all invented nationally,” he says. “I really want to see what they bring to the table.” 

With three Detroit teams, we’re hoping the competition yields something the city can truly benefit from. For now, we just have to wait and see.

Red Bull Creation takes place Wednesday, July 9 through Friday, July 11, at Recycle Here at 1331 Holden St., Detroit. The judging takes place on Saturday July 12, at Division Street from noon to midnight at 1469 Division St., Detroit. For more information see creation.redbull.com.

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