Innovation & Venture Strategy (ChicagoNEXT)

World Business Chicago’s portfolio of programs driving inclusive growth and opportunity for Chicago’s tech economy & innovation ecosystem.

Areas of Focus

CAPITAL: attract capital for tech entrepreneurs

TALENT: attract and retain STEM talent for local companies

INNOVATION: foster innovation through industry, university, and national laboratory partnerships

COMMUNITY IMPACT: build a more inclusive tech community

GLOBAL: promote Chicago's tech community globally

The ChicagoNEXT Council

Since the council’s founding in 2012 by J.B. Pritzker, the ChicagoNEXT Council represent a cross-section of the city’s tech and innovation community convened by the Mayor. Council members collaborate on shared interests and collectively influence ChicagoNEXT programs, projects, and initiatives.

Today, the council includes 250+ tech and community leaders who are mobilized to support various ChicagoNEXT-led efforts. Learn more here.


Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Challenge

From 2017-2020, the Blackstone Challenge provided $3M in grant funding to innovative organizations that effectively recruited and supported diverse entrepreneurs and scale startups in Chicago.

Chicago Venture Summit

Chicago’s flagship venture capital conference, showcasing the city’s thriving startup ecosystem.


WBC’s STEM talent attraction and retention program where we connect top-tier university talent with career-building opportunities in Chicago.


Startup Chicago

WBC’s VC attraction and startup growth program where we connect venture-ready startups with regional & national investors to accelerate their growth (an extension to the Chicago Venture Summit).


Driving partnerships and collaboration when it comes to technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship with Chicago’s leading universities and national laboratories.

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