This past week, over 400 venture capitalists and innovators convened in Chicago at Venture Summit to celebrate the city’s burgeoning entrepreneurial community. After all the pitches, panels and showcases, it became evident, that Chicago's diversified ecosystem provides the talent and resources to lead the revolution of the Internet of Things.
Internet of Things companies, both consumer and industrial, are inherently starting to dominate. Over the past five years, Chicago has experienced an explosion of startup activity and relocation of Fortune 500 headquarters (e.g. GE Transportation, ConAgra, Duracell). Paving the way for these developments have been the Chicago Entrepreneurial Center (CEC) under Jim O’Connor and Howard Tullman, and World Business Chicago led by Jeff Malehorn and Michael Sacks. These organizations have spawned innovation centers – 1871, MATTER, UI LABS and mHUB, which are amassing unparalleled resources and talent for startups and industry alike.
This confluence of technology was inevitable. Chicago has become an ecosystem built upon a gravitas that attracts over 125,000 new graduates every year from a region with world-class institutions producing more mechanical, electrical and computer engineers than anywhere in the world. This extraordinary talent is coupled with world’s most diversified economy (i.e. healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, etc.) and manufacturing sector (i.e. electronics, machinery, fabricated metal, etc.), where no industry segment makes up more than 12% of the output. Chicago is a hotbed where ideas and resources are forging innovation.
Recently, the leading factor driving the advancement in IoT is the expansion from the digital entrepreneurial ecosystem to physical resources for product innovators. With places like the Northwestern Garage, DMDII, Polsky Center, Chicago Public Libraries, and of course, mHUB, Chicago product entrepreneurs of all skill levels have the equipment, software and network necessary to take a product from concept to prototype to market. There are even daily programs and workshops throughout the region and hyper-gatherings like IoT Summit Chicago in October and GE Ventures IoT Pitch Competition in January. From 3D printing to printing circuit boards, access to equipment in Chicago has never been so democratized and talent connected.
The global advancement of the “internet” and the “things” is leading to breakthroughs in manufacturing, smart city infrastructure, autonomous vehicles, medical devices, clean energy technologies, and beyond. Chicago is marching to the beat of these advancements towards dominance of the IoT space.
Photos courtesy of ChicagoNEXT