Tech roundup: Reports boost Chicago's tech ecosystem, Wanderful gets into home sharing and more

Andreas Rekdal
March 9, 2017

Chicago is named one of the world’s best tech ecosystems

A recent report from KPMG surveying more than 800 tech leaders tied Chicago for sixth place among the world’s top innovation hubs. Asking leaders to name three innovation centers outside of Silicon Valley, the survey placed Chicago alongside Berlin and Washington D.C. The first place spot went to Shanghai, China. [Built In Chicago]

Illinois university startups are surging

A separate report authored by the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition unveiled that students, faculty and staff at Illinois universities founded 285 companies in the academic year 2015-16. That number is nearly double that of 2014-15, which clocked in at 146. “Illinois’ universities provide the training ground for entrepreneurs to explore their ideas and develop new businesses,” said ISTC president and CEO Mark Harris in a statement. [Press release]

Wanderful just launched a home sharing network

Wanderful, a Chicago-based online community for women travelers around the world, just launched a home sharing network exclusively for its members. Founder Beth Santos told Chicago Inno that the idea came about from an internal survey showing that many of the platform’s users prefer hotels to apartment rentals when traveling alone, with many citing safety concerns as a reason. Santos said the survey found that 74 percent of surveyed users said they were more likely to try home sharing in an all-female network. [Chicago Inno]

InContext Solutions opens Midwest chapter of the VR/AR Association

InContext Solutions, which makes virtual reality products for retailers and manufacturers, announced on Wednesday that it has joined the international VR/AR Association. The company will spearhead a Chicago/Milwaukee chapter of the organization, with InContext CTO Tracy Wiedmeyer serving as president. “As the chapter leader, I look forward to educating companies on the power of VR, building a deeper connection to the technology and further engaging the community,” said Wiedmeyer in a statement. [Press release]

mHUB opens as destination for hardware innovation

At the end of last week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel cut the ribbon for the official opening of a new hardware innovation center in Motorola Mobility’s former offices. With approximately 100 members at opening, mHUB’s 10 labs are decked out with 3D printers and electric manufacturing equipment that inventors and entrepreneurs can use to prototype and bring their ideas to life. Members of the hub will also have access to experienced manufacturers who will advise them in making their products commercially viable. [Chicago Tribune]

Tuesday was huge for high-level hires

CloudCraze, the Salesforce-native e-commerce solutions provider that raised $20 million in January, announced on Tuesday that it is adding four new members to its executive suite. Former executive VP Ray Grady is the company’s new president and chief customer officer, while Salesforce and Oracle veteran Brian Wagner will be the company’s new VP of sales. Rob Christensen, who was an early member of the company’s technology team, will be returning as the company’s CTO, and Jay Abraham will be the company’s chief operating officer. [Press release]

Also on Tuesday, Infutor, a company that specializes in data-driven consumer identity management, announced two new executive hires. Former Salesforce VP John Barnes will be the company’s new chief technology officer and former Sage Group VP Drew Plisco will be its chief financial officer. [Press release]

Ringleader Ventures rounded off the day by announcing that it has hired Tony Burke to be the industry director of Oper8, a new venture fund specializing in health care. Burke is the previous president and CEO of the American Hospital Association Solutions and a mentor at the MATTER healthcare innovation hub. [Press release]


Images via listed companies and Shutterstock.

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