Mayor Lightfoot Announces the Return of the Chicago Venture Summit, M25 Summit, and Midwest.Tech/Connect this September 2021


Mayor Lightfoot announces the return of the Chicago Venture Summit, M25 Summit, and Midwest.Tech/Connect this September 2021

Postponed from 2020 due to the pandemic, Chicago’s flagship VC conference returns this September with other Midwest regional events as city fully reopens

CHICAGO –  Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot announced today the return of three premier venture events in 2021: the Chicago Venture Summit this September 28-29, the annual M25 Summit this September 30-October 1, and Midwest.Tech/Connect this September 13-14. 

“Given our city’s recent reopening, as well as the ever-growing number of investors choosing to support our city and our entrepreneurs, 2021 will truly be the best year for Chicago’s thriving startup and VC ecosystem,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “From new tech unicorns to record-breaking VC funding totals in the first six months of the year, it’s clear that Chicago is poised for levels of success unlike anything we have ever seen before in our tech industry in this year alone. I am thrilled to welcome investors to our city this fall to find their next big deal with our local entrepreneurs and innovative startups.

In 2020, Chicago startups raised a record breaking $2.8 billion in venture capital funding – an all time high. In the first four months of 2021 alone, Chicago startups raised more than $3 billion in VC funding with new local tech unicorns ($1+ billion valuation) which include ActiveCampaign, Amount, Cameo, Enfusion, and project44. Chicago also leads the nation with the best tech investor ROI according to Pitchbook data.

Mayor Lightfoot also joined Michael Fassnacht, President & CEO of World Business Chicago (WBC) and Mark Tebbe, Chair of WBC’s ChicagoNEXT Council, to announce the return of the fifth Chicago Venture Summit at 167 North Green Street in the City’s Fulton Market District. Led by World Business Chicago with its presenting sponsors, the Chicago Venture Summit will highlight the city’s recent momentum as one of the top five largest VC ecosystems in the country. 

“As one of the largest venture events in the Midwest, we’re excited for the return of the  Chicago Venture Summit this September,” said Mark Tebbe, Chair of WBC’s ChicagoNEXT Council of 250+ local tech and innovation community leaders. “There is a decentralization of innovation and we’re watching mature markets like Chicago thrive as a leading startup investment hub. We’re thrilled to coordinate our efforts with M25 and Midwest.Tech to enhance all of our impacts to Chicago’s numerous tech startups.”

This year’s Summit will return fully in-person and all sessions will be available virtually for registered participants. The Summit is part of World Business Chicago’s innovation and venture portfolio of programs which also includes Startup Chicago – a VC attraction and startup growth program connecting local entrepreneurs with regional and national investors to accelerate growth.

“Chicago is seeing strong growth and momentum in our local VC ecosystem,” said Michael Fassnacht, President & CEO, World Business Chicago and Chief Marketing Officer, City of Chicago. “We know that coming out of the pandemic our city is primed to be recognized as the one U.S. city where tremendous growth and expansion across our key business sectors, from startups to established firms, is occurring.  With this momentum at hand, we invite investors from across the country to come to Chicago and see why business grows and thrives here; and why this is a great city to invest in.”

Google, JP Morgan, William Blair are returning as presenting sponsors for the 2021 Chicago Venture Summit. Lead sponsors include Accenture Open Innovation, TSX & TSX Venture Exchange, and Silicon Valley Bank. Additional sponsors will be named in the coming months. The official Summit 2021 website was developed by Clique Studios, a national award-winning web design and development firm with headquarters in Chicago.

“Google is deeply committed to the city’s many efforts to drive economic recovery,” said Karen Sauder, VP of Sales and Head of the Chicago Office for Google, and WBC Board Member. “The return of the Chicago Venture Summit will only accelerate investment for Chicago’s startup community”

“Despite the economic constraint and volatility of the past year, our city has continued to deliver incredible innovation and has shown a lasting entrepreneurial spirit,” said Heather Webster, Managing Director for J.P. Morgan in Chicago. “We’re proud to be a long-time presenting sponsor of the Chicago Venture Summit and the critical role it plays to expand access to capital for our city.”

“We’ve been amazed by the recent and rapid growth of our local VC ecosystem,” said Jim O’Connor, Managing Director and Global Head of Venture Capital for William Blair in Chicago. “The Chicago Venture Summit will be one of our best opportunities to showcase our city as one of the best destinations for early stage investment.” 

The Chicago Venture Summit will take place at 167 Green Street in Fulton Market District, a 645,000 square foot office building, developed by Shapack Partners and Focus and owned in partnership with Walton Street Capital. As a testament to its location and design, CCC Information Services and Foxtrot have announced their headquarters’ relocation to the building, joining Kroll, WeWork and other innovative companies at 167 Green Street in their move to Fulton Market District. 167 Green Street features one of Chicago’s largest town hall spaces, which doubles as a full size basketball court on the top floor of the building, in addition to a rooftop terrace, sitting room, game room and gym. 

“When Shapack Partners created Fulton Market District as a live-work-play-stay neighborhood, we knew it would attract Chicago’s most innovative companies of all industries,” said Jeff Shapack, Founder and CEO of Shapack Partners. “I’m excited and honored to welcome one of Chicago’s and the region’s largest startup events to Fulton Market District at 167 Green Street.”

As part of WBC’s mission to drive inclusive economic growth, a portion of the proceeds from Chicago Venture Summit 2021 will be donated to City Colleges of Chicago’s Tech Launch Pad, Chicago:Blend, TechRise, The Grey Matter Experience, and Women Tech Founders.

In addition to the Chicago Venture Summit, VC firm M25 announced the return of their annual Summit this September 30 to October 1, 2021. With a recent announcement of their third fund of $31.8 million, M25 is the Midwest region’s and Illinois’ most active investor and solely invested in tech startups headquartered in the Midwest. The firm is led by two of young fund managers in VC;  the firm’s diverse team demographics and commitment to antiracism and allyship has continued to move the needle towards a more diverse portfolio. So far in Fund III, 47% of companies are led by women and/or Black and LatinX founders. 

“Since launching our firm, we’ve backed over 100 companies in 24 cities across eleven Midwest states,” said Managing Partner and Founder Victor Gutwein. “We’re excited to welcome investors from across the country to our annual Summit and our partnership with the Chicago Venture Summit to better promote the Midwest and the nation’s leading startup powerhouse.”

The fall edition of midwest.tech/connect will also return this September 13-14. This fully virtual summit brings together Midwest-based and Midwest-linked startups, VCs and angel investors for efficient 1-on-1 meetings, focused on Pre-Seed, Seed, and Series A stages. Their last summit in March 2021 facilitated over 5,000 connections between approximately 750 startups and hundreds of investors, and raised $2,000 for the Girls Who Code non-profit.

“All of us believe in the promise of the Chicago and Midwest startup ecosystem,” said Jonathan Ellis, Managing Director and Founder of Sandalphon Capital, organizers of midwest.tech/connect. “And this September, we’re excited to see the return of key venture events across the region showcasing amazing startups and fostering even more connectivity.”

You can learn more about these three premier Midwest venture events via:

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