Innovation in Chicago: Then, Now and Next

This past week marked the launch of Future Founders Foundation, a collaborative civic effort to fuel the next generation of Chicago entrepreneurs. More than a dozen middle schools and high schools will benefit from the Future Founders Foundation in a number of ways.

Photo by: phibo | Source:

Chicago is rising.

The environment is here. Local VC’s are supporting early stage businesses. Millions of dollars from outside of the city are coming into town, taking a good look and then investing in some of Chicago’s most promising young companies. Our partner INXPO is just one solid example.

Most importantly, Chicago is building a community of innovation.  Great communities such as Chicago innovate. They celebrate it, as Chicago will celebrate in October during Chicago Ideas Week preceded by Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center Momentum Awards We apply great thinking to big business challenges and then we build companies to address those challenges.

News Flash: The future of this global marketplace is simply not going to be delivered primarily by big established brands. Entrepreneurs out there who are walking out on thin branches today to create value will deliver the most significant positive change tomorrow.

Chicago is modest, a bit too modest for my taste, to make the broad statement that world bending innovation is not a recent phenomenon here. We built the world’s first skyscrapers. We hosted a World’s Fair – a festival of innovation. We reversed the flow of a river.

And more than a few companies in our midst have created whole new categories in the global marketplace. Motorola invented wireless communications. The most important futures trading marketplace in the world is here.  Retail innovations. Agriculture innovations. We could go on. And we will.

Now Groupon has created a whole new category to drive new revenue to businesses, large and small. They have gone from zero to hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue per quarter (no matter how the SEC wants to measures it) in a matter of many months.  Everyone else is following them.

Chicago is a city that works – hard.  Smart thinking, hard work, belief, discipline, and a bit of luck.

The event marketing industry is big and global and yet many of its biggest and brightest moments have taken place right here in Chicago.

I have a hunch that the next big idea, when well executed, may be right around the corner.

by: Tony Lorenz

Posted on Tuesday, September 27th, 2011 at 5:00 am | innovation

  • Dennis Shiao

    Tony: great stuff and glad to hear all of the exciting things happening in Chicago. For those of us from Silicon Valley, it’s all too easy to think we’re the “center of it all,” but the reality is that innovation hubs are sprouting up all over the place, not only in US cities, but across the globe. It’s a great time to be in business.

  • Tony Lorenz

    Innovation is everywhere.. The roadblocks to the creation of innovation hubs are down. And innovation is many areas of the world is moving up. Chicago is definitely among them..

    thanks so much Dennis..and remember INXPO is BASED in Chicago!