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Inspiring Innovation at Cream City Labs

Coworkers designing fintech solutions in Cream City Labs

17,000 Square Feet of Creative Space

Cream City Labs is a 17,000 sq. ft. creative space designed to inspire people to solve challenges and search for new market opportunities as we transform the way we serve our clients. Being built at our downtown Milwaukee campus and opening in fall 2018, the lab will feature dedicated space and technologies for internal innovation teams, Cream City Venture Capital start-ups and Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute faculty and students to experiment and collaborate.

Milwaukee computer developer at work

Lab Specs:

Collaborative team space
Innovation events and training space
Makerspace with AR, VR, 3-D printer and prototyping capabilities
Interactive LCD wall
Cold brew coffee

Empowering employees to come up with the next best thing

Innovative thinking isn't new for us. We've had formal programs in place to encourage "What if?" thinking for nearly a decade. Whether through hackathons, Enterprise Venture Fund experiments or our Cream City Labs Accelerator program, we’re always listening, observing, thinking critically and adapting quickly to change. Here’s what we've been up to lately.



Reach gives our financial advisors real-time mobile access to their business' data. Using the app saves time compiling reports so they can focus on their client's financial security.

Reach is a mobile app that's designed to help our financial advisors manage their businesses more efficiently. By reducing the amount of time spent manually accessing reports or phoning our call centers, they can spend more time working with their clients. Reach was a joint effort between our internal tech team and financial advisors in the field.

Social Leads


Socialeads is a startup that won our first ever ReversePitchMKE challenge. The platform leverages data science and machine learning to help financial advisors connect with the right people at the right time.

Socialeads is a startup company that won our first ever ReversePitchMKE challenge. Socialeads analyzes social networks and other data so financial advisors can stay up-to-date on client milestones (like having a child, buying a home or saving for college). Socialeads received initial seed money from Cream City Venture Capital and will be testing the idea's viability in our accelerator.



Thrive was an experimental, free tool to help families compare college costs and lessen the impact of student loan debt. Created during our first company-wide ideation campaign, the team iterated on the idea through our accelerator program to test its viability.

Thrive was an experimental, free tool designed to help families easily compare college costs and proactively lessen the impact of student loan debt. The idea for Thrive came out of our first company-wide ideation campaign, and the team was the first to go through our 12-week internal accelerator program to test the idea's viability.

Butterfly Island

Butterfly Island

Butterfly Island is a virtual reality game that provides distraction therapy for children with cancer. The employee-submitted idea was built with Ronald McDonald House of Southeast Wisconsin.

Butterfly Island is a virtual reality game designed to provide distraction therapy for children with cancer. One of our employees came up with the idea and its development was funded by our company's Foundation in partnership with the Ronald McDonald house of southeastern Wisconsin. Butterfly Island is free and available on the Google Play Store.

Role Call

Role Call

Role Call is a mock prospecting application designed to boost the confidence and success rate of new financial advisors when they pick up the phone to call a client or potential client.

Practice makes perfect. That's the idea behind Role Call, a platform designed to boost the confidence and success rate of new financial advisors when they pick up the phone to call a client or potential client. The platform lets financial reps make mock calls and receive direct feedback from mentor coaches through the application.



Posting+ is a CRM-enabled mobile app that saves our advisors time through automation workflows and helps create a more consistent experience for clients.

Posting+ is an app that makes it more efficient for our financial advisors to process meeting notes and schedule follow-ups with clients. The app captures case notes with voice dictation, automatically generates follow-up letters and creates tasks in the client relationship management (CRM) software for the next meeting.

Pursuing Ideas Faster

Digital entrepreneurs having a discussion

Technology and new business models are rapidly changing our industry. That’s why we’ve created the Cream City Labs Accelerator. Meant to provide funding and support services to early-stage startup companies and internal teams, our accelerator is designed to quickly validate whether an idea can be turned into a viable, profitable business.

Our iterative, 12-week program is focused on lean startup methodologies and is mentor driven. We look for passionate people who can help us develop ideas and run experiments that round out our product offerings and deepen client relationships.

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Be an Innovator

Want to take ownership of your career? If you're comfortable with change, self-motivated and always eager to learn something new, check out the opportunities at Northwestern Mutual!

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From Our Engineers

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Added on Aug. 03, 2018 - Tim Ottman

Design Thinking: Changing the Way We Work by Listening to Our Clients

As a 160+ year old company, we continuously transform and evolve our processes. With design thinking, we’re changing the way we work and its helping us learn more about our clients, employees and organization.

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