Thursday, October 23, 2014

1871 Expansion Helps Chicago’s Future Thrive

1871 Expansion Helps Chicago’s Future Thrive

Photo: The Bunker Incubator
Last week, Chicago’s iconic 1871 incubator held a ribbon cutting for its 25,000 square foot expansion. This growth allows 1871 to extend what it is already great at – being an incubator of incubators, and an accelerator of accelerators. It is one of the elements that make 1871, and this expansion, unique. A goal of the expansion is to nurture vertically focused incubators in the areas of food tech, education tech, financial tech, Internet of Things, and veteran tech and WiSTEM (women-owned startups). Having industry-focused incubators in place ensures a pipeline of economic activity in the spaces that will drive growth and employment for Chicago.
Then there is this second unique element to this expansion: It will provide the space for 1871 “alumni companies” to stay on within the 1871 ecosystem. Alums will be able to continue to leverage the 1871 programming as well as the space. Further, they will be situated near offices allocated to several forward-thinking venture capital companies who want to take advantage of opportunities for investment in the Chicago market. Having VCs located near the more mature companies places the right parties together at the right time.
CEO Howard Tullman and COO Tom Alexander have many plans for additional amenities, including media recording, broadcasting space, and (of course) a choice spot for their Microsoft Perceptive Pixel. With this expansion, 1871 furthers itself down the path of being more than a center for startup activity. It is becoming an epicenter for economic development in general for the City of Chicago. To quote Todd Connor (CEO of The Bunker), it makes this “an exciting time for Chicago as we define our future as a city that believes in the dreamers, the builders, the risk takers”.

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