Chicago is an emerging hub for technology

Sector Strengths

  • Ranked #6 in US and #11 Globally on Innovation Cities Index (2018)
  • Ranked #4 in US and #13 globally for KPMG Tech Innovation Hubs (2020)
  • 1871 is the #1 Incubator in the world.
  • #1 Ecosystem for Female Founders (Startup Genome)
  • #14 Global Startup Ecosystem (Startup Genome)
  • Chicago produces the 3rd highest number of IT degrees in the US, with Illinois producing the 2nd largest amount.[1]
  • Chicago sits at the internet crossroads of the world, with the 3rd largest data center market in the US and a test bed for Quantum internet.[2]
  • Opening a Tech office in Chicago costs 2/3 of what it costs to open an office in the Bay Area. [3]
  • Highest multiple on invested capital (MOIC) in the nation at 5.6x.[4]
  • Chicago’s tech employment is 344,400, representing 7.2 percent of the workforce, with an output of $50.3 billion.[5]
  • Chicago’s bedrock of large, diverse companies, with the 2nd largest concentration of Fortune 500 HQ’s, provides customers and employees for the city’s tech scene. [6]


  • Chicago has the nation’s most diverse economy and the 2nd largest concentration of Fortune 500 headquarters, which provides an array of potential clients, partners, sources of data, and places to poach talent from.[7]
  • The Chicagoland region contains all demographic groups, from rural to urban, which provides fertile ground for testing new products and technologies.
  • Chicago is the 3rd largest city in the US, but ranks 8th for cost of living, between San Diego and Denver. Chicago’s Cost of Living is half of Manhattan, and 38% less than San Francisco. [8]
  • Investments to retain 10% ownership from Series C require 1.5X more capital in the Bay Area than Chicago.[9]
  • Chicago has the most connected airport in North America and 3nd most globally. [10]
  • Illinois ranks 5th in the US for Computer and Electronic Product exports, with nearly $7.8B in global exports in 2019. Of this, Illinois ranks 4th in the US for Communications Equipment, with $3.2B in global exports in 2019, and 4th in Navigational, Measuring, Medical, and Control instruments with $2.5B in global exports. [11]

Talent Pipeline

  • Chicago has the fourth largest data professionals workforce[12] in the US, while Illinois ranks 5th for data science talent production. Illinois Data Science graduates are nearly six-times more likely to work in Chicago.[13]
  • Illinois computer science graduates are 4.5X more likely to work in Chicago than any other city, helping to tap a large pool from UIUC.[14]
  • IIT Ed Kaplan Family Institute, 70,000-square foot space which opened in Fall 2018. The Institute houses maker space, entrepreneurship resources, and the school’s Institute of Design[15]. The school is also home to the University Technology Park, which spans 300,000 square feet of lab and office space. It currently houses 18 companies and has graduated 45[16].


  • Chicago is on the cutting edge of computing technology, with the United States’ first Exascale super-computer scheduled to come online at Argonne Laboratory in 2021.[17]
  • Launched in Fall 2018 by UChicago, Argonne, Fermilab, UIUC, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Northwestern, and IBM, the Chicago Quantum Exchange will accelerate quantum discovery and innovation, while building the nation’s workforce for quantum fields. [18]
  • Chicago’s Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) builds research teams, matches them with funding, and awards R&D seed grants to principal investigators from University of Illinois system universities and university partners for research in tech. 2019 grantees included tech-related research on high-speed autonomous vehicles.[19]  DPI projects to have trained and educated over 10,000 students by 2024 and generated over $700M in economic activity through research and innovation programming.[20]
  • In 2016, Illinois companies invested $1.1B in computer and electronic products R&D, and $823M in IT & Software R&D. [21]
  • Since 2019, $75.8M in NSF funded R&D in computing, network, cybersecurity, and information has commenced in Illinois. [22]

Top Employers:

Coyote Logistics
Echo Global Logistics
JP Morgan
Motorola Mobility
Motorola Solutions