Chicago Mayor Johnson Opens Chicago's Inaugural Venture Summit Future of Climate Tech | World Business Chicago



Chicago Mayor Johnson Opens Chicago’s Inaugural Venture Summit Future of Climate Tech

First-ever climate focused Chicago Venture Summit features 800 professionals, and a diverse portfolio of 140+ Startups, over half led by founders of color.

CHICAGO, Oct. 5, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Today, Mayor Brandon Johnson launched the inaugural Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Climate-Tech, underscoring a pivotal moment for the city’s advancement in the climate tech space. The Chicago Venture Summit, originally founded by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker in 2014, and annually orchestrated by World Business Chicago, has consistently been a magnet for tech and innovation leaders throughout the Midwest. Today’s summit, focused on climate tech, has garnered immense attention and sold-out weeks in advance. Over 800 climate tech enthusiasts, founders, investors, and business leaders are gathered at the iconic 167 Green Street in the Fulton Market District, a convening that epitomizes the strength of the Chicago region’s dynamic and burgeoning climate tech landscape.

“I’m pleased to welcome the more than 800 startup founders, investors, and innovators to the Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Climate-Tech, showcasing our city’s commitment to climate technology, sustainability, and renewable energy,” said Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson. “As one of the nation’s largest and fastest growing venture summits, today’s inaugural climate-tech edition showcases the essential role our vibrant startup community plays in advancing environmental justice and sustainability.”

According to World Business Chicago’s Research Center, the Chicagoland region’s green economy produced over $18 billion in economic output in 2022, growing by nearly 180% between 2016 and 2022. With over 65,000 in employment, Chicagoland is ranked fifth out of the top ten metro areas for employment in the green economy. Nearly 25% of all growth capital deals in Chicagoland were investments in climate and cleantech startups, the highest proportion when compared to total deals across the Midwest, U.S., and the world. The Chicago Business Bulletin’s “Chicagoland’s Green Future, Issue 6,” a publication produced by World Business Chicago’s Research Center, delves into the region’s role today and in the future in climate tech innovation and the green economy, examining the current market size, trajectory, the importance of talent and capital, workforce availability, public and private investment trends including grants, and innovation driven by research, technology transfer from Illinois universities, commercialization, and patent trends.

“The Chicago Venture Summit continues to be one of our nation’s most exciting events which connects the startup, growth capital, and corporate communities,” said Mark Tebbe, Innovation and Venture Council Chair at World Business Chicago. “Because we believe our world-class business ecosystem must be deeply invested in our local entrepreneurs, the Chicago Venture Summit is the perfect platform to drive inclusive growth and opportunity for our startups.”

Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Climate-Tech attendees represent more than 450 unique corporations, startups, financial and investment firms, universities, national laboratories, and other business and innovation entities. This includes more than 80 financial, investment, and venture capital firms, and more than 10 countries represented via Consulate Generals, trade offices, and other international participants. The summit’s startup portfolio includes 149 startups, more than half led by a founder of color, 55 percent headquartered in Illinois, and 45 percent headquartered outside of Illinois—demonstrating the summit’s continued resonance as a national event.

Among the highlights of the Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Climate-Tech, include:

  • Opening keynote by Michael Polsky, CEO and Founder of Invenergy;
  • International Presenting Partner remarks by Sameer Ahmed, Acting Consul General and Senior Trade Commissioner for the Consulate General of Canada in Chicago;
  • Future-of-Startups Panel featuring Blip Energy, Mycocyle, and Agriwater;
  • Future-of-Industry Panel featuring J.P. Morgan, Crowe, Microsoft, UL, Amazon, and Verizon;
  • Future-of-Markets Panel featuring Evergreen Climate Innovations, Energize Capital, Nomadic Venture Partners, S2G Ventures, and 1871;
  • Spotlights featuring Evergreen Climate Innovations, NuMat Technologies, Chain Reactions Innovations at Argonne National Laboratory, Stemloop, Current, mHUB, Kazadi Entreprises, 1871, Kadeya, Hyde Park Venture Partners, and HData; and,
  • Enjoying a leading role in the inaugural Chicago Climate Tech Week featuring partner events led by Current (Water Innovators Reception for EFTEC, October 1), Normadic Venture Partners (Industrial Climate Tech Summit, October 2), Evergreen Climate Innovations (Deep Tech Expo, October 4), Energize Capital (Energize NEXT: the Climate Software Summit, October 4), and mHUB (ClimateTech Open House, October 4).

“The Chicago Venture Summit stands as the Midwest’s premier gathering, drawing in over 1,500 forward-thinking entrepreneurs, investors, and innovative startups in just the past year,” said Michael Fassnacht, CEO and President of World Business Chicago, and the City of Chicago’s Chief Marketing Officer. “Today’s climate tech focused venture summit underscores the Chicagoland region’s commitment to directing investments and innovation towards robust climate solutions that not only generate jobs but also catalyze inclusive economic advancement.”

Visionary Ecosystem Leaders & Business Titans Champion Chicagoland as the Next Global Climate Tech Nexus

The Chicago Venture Summit is proud to announce the support of 40 unique sponsors, including the valuable contributions from its presenting sponsors: 1871, CBRE, ComEd, Crowe, Current, Energize Capital, Evergreen Climate Innovations, J.P. Morgan, mHUB, Microsoft, S2G Ventures, Shapack Partners, UL, and Verizon. The summit’s presenting international partner is the Consulate General of Canada in Chicago.

  • “As a global innovation hub, we rally behind innovative founders who are building industry-disrupting startups, catalyzing long-lasting change across sectors,” said Betsy Ziegler, CEO of 1871. “We are thrilled to join World Business Chicago and other partners in supporting this summit. Together, we aim to forge groundbreaking climate and sustainability solutions that have the power to reshape Chicago and positively impact the entire world.”

  • “This week’s summit is an exciting opportunity for start-up founders, entrepreneurs, business leaders and investors to connect, collaborate and chart a path forward,” said Brad Serot, Vice Chairman at CBRE Chicago. “Without question, Chicago is an epicenter for innovation. We’ve represented tech companies, early-stage start-ups, and businesses on the frontlines of clean energy for years, and we are grateful to World Business Chicago for including us as they work to support greater connectivity within the community, further strengthening our world-class business and tech ecosystems.

  • “With Illinois’ clean energy transition underway, ComEd is hard at work delivering the infrastructure our communities need for a more climate-resilient future,” said Gil C. Quiniones, CEO of ComEd. “We are proud to join World Business Chicago and companies from across the region in sponsoring this summit, which will shine a light on efforts by public and private sector partners to ensure that equity and economic opportunity are defining features of our region’s clean energy future.” ComEd is a World Business Chicago board member.

  • “Crowe is proud to call Chicago our home and being able to support the Chicago Venture Summit and Climate Tech is an honor for us.” said Mary Ann Travers, Crowe Managing Partner for the Chicago Office. “We look forward to continuing our support of Chicago’s business community.”

  • “Since 2016, Current has worked to raise, align and invest cross-sector resources to support water innovators in the Chicago region,” said Alaina Harkness, Executive Director of Current. “We are grateful for World Business Chicago’s enduring partnership and recognition of the centrality of water and climate to our region’s economic future.”

  • “As a global climate software investor, we are thrilled for the opportunity to convene with founders and funders working to scale sustainable innovation in our hometown of Chicago,” said Katie McClain, Partner and COO of Energize Capital. “We are proud to sponsor the Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Climate-Tech event and to continue to build Chicago’s profile as a hub for climate innovation by taking part in the inaugural Chicago Climate Week.”

  • “Evergreen has been providing catalytic capital and support to the region’s climate technology innovators since 2010,” said Erik Birkerts, Chief Executive Officer of Evergreen Climate Innovations. “We applaud World Business Chicago’s commitment to elevating these inspiring startups and entrepreneurs and showcasing Chicago as a collaborative hub for climate innovation.”

  • “The climate tech industry represents a significant economic opportunity for Chicago and the greater Midwest, and J.P. Morgan is proud to support innovation in the region, as we have for more than 150 years,” said Janice D’Arco, Executive Director of Green Economy Banking at J.P. Morgan. “We’re excited to sponsor World Business Chicago’s inaugural gathering of industry pioneers, entrepreneurs and investors as we work to scale decarbonization technologies and advance a more sustainable future.”

  • Illinois has incredible assets across research, industry, and innovation, and with the State’s recent commitments to building a clean energy future, there is a growing momentum that will put Illinois, and Chicago, at the center of developing new climate technologies,” said Haven Allen, mHUB Chief Executive Officer. “As one of the City’s most active ClimateTech seed investors, mHUB knows that collaboration is essential to the commercialization of complex, early-stage technology. We’re proud to support World Business Chicago and the Chicago Venture Summit for bringing together the innovators that will shape the future of Illinois in their efforts to impact the world.”

  • “Microsoft is more than just a technology company. We are a community of innovators, creators and dreamers who want to make a positive impact in the world,” said Nisaini Rexach, Community Engagement Lead for Microsoft. “That’s why we are invested in startup founders in the Chicago ecosystem who share our vision and passion. We believe that by supporting them, we can empower them to achieve their goals and solve the biggest challenges of our time.” Microsoft is a World Business Chicago board member.

  • “As an investor in climate tech solutions, S2G Ventures takes great pride in supporting World Business Chicago and advancing the city’s leadership role as a hub at the forefront of tech and innovation,” said Tonya Bakritzes, Managing Director at S2G Ventures. “This important convening is spotlighting the power of entrepreneurship, investment, and collaboration. We can accelerate the vital transformation required to advance a more sustainable and healthy planet through constructive dialogue and decisive action.”

  • “We are thrilled to host the Future of Climate Tech at 167 Green, in the heart of the city’s Fulton Market District,” said Jeff Shapack, Founder and CEO of Shapack Partners, and World Business Chicago board member.

  • “Working for a safer, more secure and more sustainable world means supporting the creative startup ecosystem of our city, knowing that new ideas fuel the innovations we need to solve the global challenge of climate change,” said Jennifer Scanlon, president and CEO of UL Solutions. UL Solutions is a World Business Chicago board member.

  • “At Verizon, we believe our network technology and 5G capabilities serve as a platform for innovation”, said Steven Shaw, Community Engagement Director at Verizon. “We are excited to be a presenting sponsor of the Chicago Venture Summit by World Business Chicago to facilitate conversation among corporations on opportunities for technology with respect to environmental sustainability.”

  • “With our integrated economies and ecosystems, Canada and the U.S. have a long history of close cooperation on environmental issues. Our countries are committed to achieving ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reductions including action towards net-zero emissions by 2050. By aligning policy solutions, regulatory approaches, industry partnerships and building resilience to climate impacts we are jointly creating opportunity for the entrepreneurs willing to take on the challenge.” said Madeleine Féquière, Consul General of Canada in Chicago. “In the Consulate General’s 75 years of cultivating cross-border relationships in the U.S. Midwest, we have committed to Chicagoland’s startup ecosystem including a decade-long partnership with MATTER, and with mHUB, Chicago Innovation, World Business Chicago and 1871’s Supply Chain Innovation Lab.”

World Business Chicago recognizes that the success of the Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Climate-Tech, the region’s flagship venture summit, is due in large part to the generous support of its partners and sponsors. Innovation Sponsors include all seven members of the Greater Chicagoland Economic Partnership (Cook County, Choose DuPage, Kane County, Kendall County, Lake County Partners, McHenry County Economic Development Corporation, and the Will County Center for Economic Development). Additional Innovation Sponsors include Cooley, GET Cities, Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, TechNexus Venture Collaborative, and SRS Acquiom. Startup Sponsor include Amazon, Clique Studios, Mycocycle, and Wynndalco Enterprises. Venture Partners include All Raise, BLCK VC, Chain Reactions Innovations at Argonne National Laboratory, Chicago:Blend, Earth Foundry, Gen Z VCs, Hyde Park Venture Partners, and Lofty Ventures, and SomosVC.

For the fifth time since 2021, the Chicago Venture Summit returns to 167 Green in Chicago’s Fulton Market District. The 640,000 square foot office building, developed by Shapack Partners and Focus and owned in partnership with Walton Street Capital, is a testament to its location and design. Recently, CCC Information Services, Foxtrot, and others have announced their headquarters’ relocation to the building, joining Kroll and other innovative companies located at 167 Green in the Fulton Market District. 167 Green features one of Chicago’s largest town hall spaces, which doubles as a full-size basketball court on the top floor of the building, along with a rooftop terrace, sitting room, game room and gym.

World Business Chicago serves a critical role in driving inclusive and equitable recovery throughout the city’s 77 neighborhoods, focused on high growth sectors: transportation, distribution, & logistics; manufacturing; healthcare & life sciences, and our local innovation, startup, & venture ecosystem. As the City of Chicago’s economic development agency, World Business Chicago leads corporate attraction & retention, workforce & talent, community impact, and promotion of Chicago as a leading global city. Supported by a council of 300+ local leaders, World Business Chicago’s portfolio of innovation & venture programs include: the Chicago Venture Summit series, Startup Chicago, ThinkChicago, and Venture Engine with the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition (ISTC). Follow World Business Chicago on LinkedIn for daily news and announcements on company relocation and expansion, industry and ecosystem growth, U.S. and world rankings, and more about Chicago’s economic progress.



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