Chicago tech continues to explode as two innovation hubs announce expansions

by Sam Dewey
October 9, 2015

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It’s been a big day for tech innovation hubs in Chicago.

Last night at the eighth annual Momentum Awards, 1871 CEO Howard Tullman announced another set of expansion plans for the celebrated tech epicenter based out of the Merchandise Mart.

The expansion follows an initial 25,000-square-foot addition just last October, which broadened 1871’s presence on the Mart’s 12th floor to 75,000 square feet.

The third expansion plans to add an additional 42,000 square feet (all on the 13th floor) by the end of January — which opens up space for up to 300 new members.

“We are thrilled at this next expansion which is crucial for our continued growth and success,” Tullman said in a company statement. “In the world of technology today, if you’re not growing and moving forward, you’re losing ground and on your way to oblivion.”

Unlike 1871’s initial construction and earlier expansion efforts — which were funded in part by grants from the state — the tech hub’s new expansion is entirely self funded by 1871 and its founding organization, the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center.

1871 “3.0” will house a variety of distinct companies and organizations, including a brand new incubator for hispanic entrepreneurship — a venture jointly launched by 1871 and the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

But it’s not just 1871 that’s got growth on its mind.

Friday, the Chicago Tribune also reported that University of Chicago-based incubator, the Chicago Innovation Exchange, will unveil its new expansion. The new location adds an additional 7,000 square feet, which includes space for a new lab and incubator space.

The CIE will open up shop at 1463 E. 53rd St. in Hyde Park, just across the street from their current space.

“We’re drawing Hyde Park closer to the city,” John Flavin, CIE’s executive director, told the Tribune. “We’re weaving the fabric closer and we’re including this community in the overall … innovation ecosystem in Chicago.”

According to the report, the CIE already incubates 18 startups, and its facilities play host to over 1,1000 members.

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