More than 600 founders, Fortune 500 leaders, and investors are attending Chicago’s flagship food innovation conference hosted by World Business Chicago.

CHICAGO, May 26, 2022 – Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot today welcomes more than 600 venture capitalists & investors, founders, innovators, and corporate executives for a sold-out Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Food, the city’s new flagship food innovation conference led by World Business Chicago. The two-day conference concludes today at 167 Green in Chicago’s Fulton Market District. The Chicago Venture Summit series is led by World Business Chicago, with the support of 40 sponsors.

“Our local food innovation and startup ecosystem is core to our city’s economic progress and future prosperity,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “As the global capital for food innovation with the largest concentration of food and beverage Fortune 500s, I’m honored to welcome more than 600 founders, innovators and investors for our first-ever Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Food.”

According to Pitchbook data, Chicago food innovation companies raised $732 million in venture capital in 2021 alone, a 508 percent increase over 2019. In Q1 2022, local companies raised $111 million in venture capital.

“Our first-ever Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Food is part of our expanded summit series focused on driving growth for our city’s most important sectors” said Mark Tebbe, Chair of World Business Chicago’s Innovation & Venture Council. “As our city’s flagship founders and investors conference, our first-ever sector-focused summit continues to lead as one of the nation’s premier startup and venture events”

Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Food 2022 (the “Summit”) kicked off on May 25 with a series of innovation showcases led by Chicago’s leading food innovation hubs and investors: Food Foundry, Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network, and Cleveland Avenue. Of the more than 600 registered for the sold-out Summit, this year’s event includes representation from 80+ VC/investment firms, 14+ Fortune 500s, 20 Consul Generals and trade offices, and 110+ local startups. The majority of startups in the Summit startup portfolio are led by either a female and/or founder of color. Today’s program includes the following:

Keynotes by Don Thompson – CEO & Founder, Cleveland Avenue; and Tracey Warner Halama – CEO, Vital Proteins;
Corporate Innovation Panel featuring Accenture, Ferrero, Ingredion, JLL, Kraft Heinz, and Mondelez;
Founders Panel featuring AYO Foods, Hazel Technologies, Nature’s Fynd, Science on Call, and The Planting Hope Company;
Investors Panel featuring Bluestein Ventures, Listen Ventures, Sandbox Sustainability Ventures, S2G Ventures, and Supply Change Capital.
“Growth across all industries and sectors in Chicago is being enabled through tech and innovation,” says Michael Fassnacht, President & CEO, World Business Chicago; and, Chief Marketing Officer, City of Chicago. “Today Chicago’s food, beverages, and agriculture sector is the nation’s largest, generating over nine billion annually and employing over 65 thousand people; where over 2800 companies located here are actively participating and contributing to the city’s vibrant startup and venture ecosystem.”

Aligned with World Business Chicago’s mission to drive equitable and inclusive growth, the Summit will donate a portion of the event’s proceeds to various non-profits: the Children First Fund (The Chicago Public Schools Foundation), the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the Hatchery Chicago, and Urban Growers Collective.

World Business Chicago is proud to have the critical support of inaugural presenting sponsors – Accenture, BMO, Cleveland Avenue, Cooley, Deloitte, Ferrero, Ingredion, JLL, JP Morgan, P33, Quaker Foods, and Shapack Partners:

“Chicago is home to one of Accenture’s 11 innovation hubs across North America, as well as our food-focused innovation space: The Extract,” said Jim Coleman, Senior Managing Director for Accenture’s Chicago Office, and World Business Chicago Board Member. “We’re proud to support the inaugural Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Food and local startups that are helping transform the food ecosystem.”
“Entrepreneurship is critical to the continued growth of the food industry, especially here in Chicago where we are uniquely positioned to be the hub for innovation in the food and agriculture industry, which BMO has been supporting for generations,” said David Casper, U.S. CEO of BMO Financial Group, and World Business Chicago board member. “We’re very happy to partner with World Business Chicago to be part of this vibrant entrepreneurial community and to build on our long-term commitment to the food and agriculture industry.”
“Food founders and startups are truly reinventing the sector globally right here in Chicago,” said Gregory Grossman, Founding Partner of Cooley’s Chicago Office. “Chicago’s startup ecosystem is thriving, and Cooley is proud to support premier national events like the Chicago Venture Summit for local founders, innovators, and investors.”
“Chicago’s fast-growing food startup ecosystem is thriving,” said Kathy Scherer, Chicago Managing Partner, Deloitte LLP, and World Business Chicago Board Member. “As we found in our recent Road to Next report, evolving consumer demand and digitization have propelled food-tech investment activity nationally and here in Chicago. Deloitte is a proud supporter of innovation, which allows entrepreneurs to drive both growth and opportunity.”
“As one of the world’s leading producers of iconic brands like Ferrero Rocher, Nutella, Tic Tac, and our Illinois-made Butterfinger, Baby Ruth and Crunch – Ferrero’s success wouldn’t be possible without Chicago,” said Todd Siwak, President and Chief Business Officer for Ferrero North America, and World Business Chicago Board Member. “Ferrero is deeply committed to the success of local food entrepreneurs and their innovative companies showcased at the inaugural Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Food.”
“As a Fortune 500 which serves more than 19,000 customers in 60 industries in more than 120 countries, our global headquarters and workforce thrives right here in the Chicagoland area,” said James P. Zallie, President and CEO of Ingredion. “As a presenting sponsor for the Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Food, we believe the future of food industry will be influenced by many of Chicago’s talented innovators, and we’re excited to collaborate by using our nature-based ingredients to create innovative products that win in the marketplace.”
“As as a global real estate and investment management firm headquartered in Chicago, we’re excited to see how the city’s food innovation ecosystem will shape the future of the sector,” said Dan Ryan, President for the Central Region at JLL, and World Business Chicago Board Member. “Our city’s economic progress and success is truly led by our local entrepreneurs and innovators, and JLL is proud to support them to make Chicago a global innovation powerhouse.”
“Since 2016, JPMorgan has supported every Chicago Venture Summit to help local founders and our startup ecosystem,” said Heather Webster, Managing Director for J.P. Morgan Private Bank in Chicago. JPMorgan is also a member of WBC’s board of directors. “Chicago is home to one of the world’s best food startup communities, and we are proud of our work for innovative sectors including the city’s food and ag industry.”
“Historically, Chicago has all the right pieces: the talent, the companies, the academic institutions and more,” says Brad Henderson, CEO of P33, a non-profit driving inclusive tech growth in Chicago. “Chicago has a history in fueling innovation in the food and ag sector. Today’s incredible startups and established corporations will continue that legacy and together transform our startup economy.”
“Chicago is a leader when it comes to fostering growth in the food industry and Quaker continues to thrive in this city,” said Robbert Rietbroek, General Manager and Senior Vice President of Quaker Foods North America, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, and World Business Chicago Board Member. “The Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Food is a great platform for an iconic, global brand such as Quaker to collaborate with local founders and innovators.”
“Fulton Market District has become Chicago’s most desired destination for food innovation companies, which complements the innovative world-renowned restaurants in the neighborhood,” said Jeff Shapack, Founder and CEO of Shapack Partners and World Business Chicago Board Member. “Shapack Partners is honored to host our second Chicago Venture Summit at 167 Green, with this year being Chicago’s new food innovation conference.”
The Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Food would not be possible without the active partnership of sponsors whose financial contributions directly support the participation of local founders who are part of the Summit’s official startup portfolio. Innovation Sponsors include SRS Acquiom, Uber, and Valor Equity Partners. Startup Sponsors include 2112, Beam Suntory, Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network, Clique Studios, Food Foundry, Foxtrot, Ice Miller, The Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Kraft Heinz, Mars Wrigley, Mondelez, Naturally Chicago, Supply Change Capital, The Hatchery, and The Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), Venture Partners include Bluestein Ventures, Capitalize VC, DOM Capital Group, Germin8 Ventures, Hyde Park Angels, Lofty Ventures, S2G Ventures, Sandbox Industries, Serra Ventures, and Zila Ventures.

For a second year in a row, the Chicago Venture Summit is excited to return 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, FTX U.S., and others have announced their headquarters’ relocation to the building, joining Kroll, WeWork and other innovative companies at 167 Green in their move to 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, in addition to a rooftop terrace, sitting room, game room and gym.

To learn more about the Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Food agenda, startup portfolio, and speakers, please visit


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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Source: World Business Chicago

Media Contact:
Andrew Hayes, 312-823-4333

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