Tech Industry Leaders, Startups and Nearly 150 Investment Firms Attend 2016 Chicago Venture Summit

chicago venture summitMayor Rahm Emanuel today welcomed the region’s tech leaders, start-up founders and nearly 150 investment firms to the second Chicago Venture Summit. The Venture Summit brings Chicago’s startups together with the nation’s top investors to build relationships and attract capital. The summit will build on the success of the first Venture Summit in 2014, which raised more than $220 million of investment into Chicago area tech

“Today’s summit is about building bridges of opportunity for our startup community to produce and launch the next great idea,” Mayor Emanuel said. “Linking entrepreneurs and investors has a multiplier effect on our economy and our neighborhoods. Making these important connections creates jobs, develops talent and furthers Chicago’s reputation as a true hub for innovation and industry, where big concepts can become big companies.”

This year’s Venture Summit features speakers including Steve LaValle, principal scientist for Oculus VR before its purchase by Facebook and now professor of computer science at the University of Illinois, and Steve Jurvetson, a partner at Silicon Valley venture firm DFJ (responsible for the firm’s investments in Tesla Motors and SpaceX). The summit is being held is at Google’s office in the West Loop. Of the 30 participating startups in 2014, 23 received funding and two were acquired by larger companies. Companies that received funding include:

The Venture Summit’s significant impact aligns with the tremendous growth of Chicago’s tech community. Chicago’s tech sector employs more than 54,000 people, according to Built In Chicago, an 11 percent increase over 2014. This week, the city’s digital technology hub, 1871 unveiled its latest expansion to more than 115,000 square feet in the Merchandise Mart. In addition, incubators such as MATTER (healthcare IT), University of Chicago’s Chicago Innovation Exchange (CIE) and Blue1647 on the South Side continue to thrive and create jobs.

According to a recent DJX VentureSource report, there was $177.5 million in venture capital invested in Chicago in the first quarter of 2016, a significant increase from the $97.6 million raised in the first quarter of 2015. Investment rounds were also up, with 20 rounds in the first quarter of 2016 compared to 13 in 2015.

“We are focused on driving growth in Chicago’s tech community and one of our primary goals is increasing access to capital for early-stage startups,” World Business Chicago technology council, ChicagoNEXT, Chairman Mark Tebbe said. “By bringing startup founders, established companies, university heads and Chicago’s tech community leaders together with venture capitalists from across the globe, we are making deals happen, and building a community that will prosper.”

JP Morgan, Google, William Blair and Goldman Sachs are the lead sponsors of the 2016 Chicago Venture Summit. Additional sponsors include PrivateBank, Silicon Valley Bank, Origin Ventures, GE Ventures, Microsoft, Pritzker Group, Foley & Lardner LLP, Chicago Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners and Lightbank.