World Business Chicago Leads Largest-Ever Chicago Venture Summit Gathering of Founders, Fortune 500 Executives, Innovators, & Investors at 2023 Chicago Venture Summit, Future-of-Food | World Business Chicago


World Business Chicago Leads Largest-Ever Chicago Venture Summit Gathering of Founders, Fortune 500 Executives, Innovators, & Investors at 2023 Chicago Venture Summit, Future-of-Food

world business chicago chicago venture summit future of food 2023chicago mayor lori e lightfooot


Chicago, IL – The Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Food, the flagship event of the region’s venture and startup community, which has garnered a national reputation as one of the premier venture conferences in North America, is bringing together over 1000 investors, founders, innovators, and corporate executives for three days of discussions and networking at 167 Green Street in Chicago’s Fulton Market District. The event, led by World Business Chicago, and opened by Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, focuses on the future of food, a topic of growing importance in the global venture landscape.


“As we open the 2023 Chicago Venture Summit Future of Food, I am reminded of the limitless potential that exists within our city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “This summit is a testament to our unwavering commitment to supporting local startups and providing them with the resources they need to thrive. I am confident that the ideas and innovations that will be shared here over the next few days will continue to cement Chicago’s status as a global leader in food innovation and startup investment.”


The Chicago region has once again been confirmed to be not just the largest metro area for food production, but the leading hub for food bioengineering and production in the United States, according to the latest report published by the World Business Chicago Research Center today. The report features data from Pitchbook™ that highlights some 60% of Chicago-based startups receiving seed funding, since Q1 2022, have developed innovative food products utilizing biotechnology for food production. The World Business Chicago Research Center, Future of Food Issue 11, provides in depth coverage of the significant role Chicagoland plays in the innovation and production in the food industry.


“Since the first summit in 2014, our city’s flagship startup and venture capital conference has evolved to a premier global convening for startups, industry, and investors,” said Mark Tebbe, Innovation and Venture Council Chair of World Business Chicago. “Now as a sector-focused, multi-summit series, our Chicago Venture Summits continues to bring investors from around the world to explore significant investment opportunities and deals across Chicagoland.”


More than 1000 participants have registered to attend this year’s Chicago Venture Summit, representing more than 450 unique corporations, startups, financial and investment firms, universities, and other business and innovation ecosystem entities. This includes more than 100 financial, investment, and venture capital firms, and more than 20 countries represented via Consulate Generals, trade offices, and other international participants. The official Chicago Venture Summit startup portfolio includes 156 participating startups. 66% of startup portfolio companies are led by a founder of color. Nearly half of the startup portfolio companies are led by a female founder. 64% of the portfolio is headquartered in Chicagoland and Illinois, with 26% from outside-of-Illinois. This year’s startup portfolio includes the greatest representation of outside-of-Illinois startups, showing the global demand of the Chicago Venture Summit series.


Among the highlights of the Chicago Venture Summit, Future of Food 2023, include:

  • Opening keynote by Alanna Cotton, President and Chief Business Officer for North America for Ferrero.
  • Closing keynote by Kristin Kroepfl, Chief Marketing Officer for Quaker Foods North America.
  • Keynote remarks by Hiroshi Shiragami, Chief Innovation Officer for Ajinomoto.
  • Future-of-Startups Panel featuring Clever Carnivore, Dom’s Kitchen & Market, Forty Aces Fresh Market, Hyfe, and LatinxVC.
  • Future-of-Markets Panel featuring Cooley, SWAT Equity Partners, and Supply Change Capital.
  • Future-of-Corporate-Innovation Panel featuring DLA Piper, Edelman, Kraft Heinz, Mars Wrigley, and Microsoft.
  • Greater Chicagoland Economic Partnership (GCEP) Remarks by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
  • A Chicago Food Pop-up led by Here Here Market.
  • Partner events led by Naturally Chicago, Food Foundry, and Chicago startups Drip and FOODe.
  • And the newest expansion to the Chicago Venture Summit experience: “Startup & VC Day” taking place a Life Time Work on Friday, May 5.

“The Chicago Venture Summit is the epitome of our unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusivity in economic development,” said Michael Fassnacht, CEO & President of World Business Chicago and Chief Marketing Officer of the City of Chicago. “With a record-breaking 156 innovative startups in this summit’s portfolio, nearly half of which are led by female-identifying founders and 66 percent led by founders of color, we’re proud to be leading the charge in creating a more equitable and inclusive future. This exceptional display of diversity and talent is a clear indication that our competitive advantage lies in uplifting and amplifying diverse voices and perspectives to drive innovation, growth, and expansion. As a global leader in food and agtech, we’re excited to continue pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and creating a brighter future for all.”

Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Food is proud to announce the support of 53 unique sponsors, including valuable contributions from its presenting sponsors BMO, Cleveland Avenue, Cooley, Edelman, Ferrero, Mars Wrigley, Microsoft, Quakers Foods North America, and Shapack, without whom this premier event for food innovation would not be possible.

  • “As we navigate the evolving food industry, entrepreneurship plays a critical role in its continued growth. Here in Chicago, we have the distinct advantage of being the center for innovation in the food and agriculture sector, an industry that BMO has been committed to supporting for generations,” said David Casper, U.S. CEO of BMO, and World Business Chicago board member. “Our partnership with World Business Chicago continues to drive progress in this vital industry and reinforces our dedication to supporting this thriving entrepreneurial community.”
  • At Cleveland Avenue, we believe if you give entrepreneurs the support they need, amazing things will happen. We are proud supporters of World Business Chicago and through the Chicago Venture Summit, we celebrate Chicago’s tremendous food community,” said Don Thompson, Founder & CEO, Cleveland Avenue, LLC, and World Business Chicago board member. “Chicago continues to lead the hospitality and food industry and is brimming with opportunity in every community – our team is committed to invest in and support these amazingly innovative entrepreneurs.”
  • “With a long history of supporting leading-edge startups and venture investors across sectors and through many economic cycles, Cooley continues to see a bright future for innovative food and agtech companies. We think this is particularly true in Chicago, as evidenced by this year’s Future of Food Summit being the biggest one yet,” said Laurie Bauer, co-founding partner and co-head of the corporate group for Cooley Chicago. “We are thrilled to part of Chicago’s thriving food and agriculture ecosystem. Supporting the Venture Summit is an opportunity for both the firm and the city to lead in this important sector.”
  • “Edelman has been at the forefront of food and beverage innovation in Chicago for more than 70 years,” said Alison Borgmeyer, MS, RD, Chair US Food & Beverage for Edelman. “Innovation starts with each of us and we believe Chicago is the heart for creating systemic positive change in our food system.”
  • “Ferrero is driven by the entrepreneurial spirit of our founders and continually seeks out opportunities to foster ingenuity in our communities,” said Alanna Cotton, President and Chief Business Officer for Ferrero North America, and World Business Chicago board member “That’s why we are thrilled to join World Business Chicago and bring the food startup community together, helping to further strengthen Chicago’s position as a place where new food companies and ideas thrive.”
  • “At Mars Wrigley, we’re proud to have played role in helping to build the food capital of the world from the ground up. Chicago has been our home for over 100-years and we’re doubling down on our commitment to this great city with the opening of a brand new $40 million innovation center later this year,” said Fabiano Lima, Global Vice President for Corporate Affairs for Mars Wrigley, and a World Business Chicago board member. An investment that will create jobs and make Chicago our largest innovation hub in the world. Our commitment to the community doesn’t stop at our front door, though, we have cumulatively provided nearly $30M in funding to the Chicago community and will continue to invest including $1M this year alone.”


  • At Microsoft, we are dedicated to using technology to revolutionize the food sector and make a positive impact,” said Nisaini Rexach, Head of Community Engagement for Microsoft in Chicago. “We are proud to be part of this journey with World Business Chicago with the Chicago Venture Summit series. As an presenting sponsor, we are thrilled to support World Business Chicago in this capacity.”
  • “Quaker has over 100 years of history in Chicago and continues to thrive in this city thanks to its location and as a hub for talent in the food industry. As a result, we have delivered strong growth and innovation at Quaker,” said Robbert Rietbroek, General Manager and Senior Vice President of Quaker Foods North America, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, and World Business Chicago Board Member. “Quaker looks forward to connecting and collaborating with local entrepreneurs, innovators, and food industry experts at this year’s Chicago Future of Food Venture Summit.”
  • “We are thrilled to host the Chicago Venture Summit Future of Food for the second consecutive year at 167 N Green, in Fulton Market District,” said Jeff Shapack, Founder and CEO of Shapack Partners and World Business Chicago board member. “As we navigate the challenges of sustainably feeding a growing global population, the summit serves as a vital platform for the future of the food industry. We look forward to hosting visionaries from around the world to the neighborhood. Fulton Market is synonymous with food and beverage, once a US hub of meatpacking and market produce and now one of the most desired destinations for restaurants and food innovation companies to share ideas, explore innovative solutions, and shape the future of food.”


World Business Chicago recognizes that the success of the Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Food, the region’s flagship venture summit, is due in large part to the generous support of our partners and sponsors. Without their invaluable contributions, this event would not enjoy the national reputation it has as the premier convening of startups and investors in the food innovation industry. Innovation Sponsors include all seven members of the Greater Chicagoland Economic Partnership (GCEP): 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: 1871, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, The Desire Company, GET Cities, Here Here Market, JLL, Midwest House, Savills, and SRS Acquiom. Startup Sponsor include: 2112 Creatives Industries Incubator, Chicagoland Food and Beverage Network, Clique Studios, Food Foundry, Grow Greater Englewood, Naturally Chicago, Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, Institute for Food Safety and Health of the Illinois Institute of Technology, Institute for Food Technologists, P33, S2G Ventures, and Valor Equity Partners. Venture Partners include: 81 Collection Fund, All Raise, BLCK VC, Bluestein Ventures, Chicago:Blend, Dom Capital Group, Founder Familia, HPA, Gen Z VCs, LatinxVC, Lofty Ventures, Serra Ventures, Supply Change Capital, Tilia, TMX, and VC Familia.


For the fourth 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, WeWork 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.


As part of WBC’s mission to drive inclusive economic growth, a portion of the proceeds from this year’s Chicago Venture Summit will be donated to Don’s Chicago Dream, the Greater Chatham Initiative, and La Casa Norte. You can learn more about the Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Food 2023 at Follow World Business Chicago on Twitter and LinkedIn for live updates from the summit.

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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).



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