8 Biotech Companies in Chicago Cultivating the City’s Life Sciences Scene

Written by Olivia McClure
Published on Jun. 26, 2023
8 Biotech Companies in Chicago Cultivating the City’s Life Sciences Scene
​ Image: Shutterstock ​

Considering Chicago has long been seen as a healthcare hotbed, it’s no surprise that the city’s biotech sector has been strengthening over the past several years. While Chicagoland hosts various pharmaceutical giants like Abbott Laboratories and Baxter International, the area has witnessed a significant increase in early-stage life sciences companies. Many of the city’s biotech startups have spun out of academic powerhouses like the University of Chicago and Northwestern University and have proven themselves to be some of the nation’s most impressive life sciences newcomers. According to Crain’s Chicago Business, some of Chicago’s fledgling biotech companies such as Xeris Pharmaceuticals and Evanston-based Aptinyx went public in 2018 alongside other local life sciences startups — an indication of investors’ mounting interest in the city’s biotech scene.

As Chicago’s biotech ecosystem continues to expand, promising life sciences companies keep sprouting across the city. Similar to other biotech hotspots like New York City and Boston, Chicago is home to life sciences innovators that span a variety of disciplines. The city’s biotech leaders are pioneering advances in popular areas like immunotherapy and disease management, utilizing the latest technologies in an attempt to create safer and more effective treatments. For Chicago’s many life sciences organizations, helping people live their healthiest lives is key to bolstering the city’s biotech community. 

Biotech Companies in Chicago to Know

  • Tempus
  • Cardiosense
  • AbbVie
  • CancerIQ
Tempus biotech companies Chicago

Founded: 2015

Focus: Data-Driven Precision Medicine

What they do: Launched by Eric Lefkofsky, Tempus has created the world’s largest library of clinical and molecular data in addition to an operating system designed to make such information accessible for patients, researchers and physicians. The company’s interactive analytical and machine learning platform allows physicians to offer patients personalized care and targeted therapies. Tempus’ suite of tools are intended for use in areas such as oncology, neurology and psychiatry, and infectious disease research. 


Cardiosense Inc. biotech companies Chicago
Cardiosense INc.

Founded: 2020

Focus: Cardiac Care

What they do: Cardiosense Inc. has developed a physiological monitoring platform that helps patients manage cardiac diseases. The company’s wireless wearable is designed to detect early signs of cardiac decline before the onset of symptoms, leveraging a combination of biometric sensors to capture the full electrochemical behavior of each heartbeat. Cardiosense Inc. aims to enable care teams to prioritize at-risk patients, implement therapeutic interventions and prevent hospitalizations.


CancerIQ biotech companies Chicago

Founded: 2013

Focus: Oncology Risk Assessment

What they do: CancerIQ enables providers to use genetic information to identify at-risk patients. Providers can offer patients an easy risk assessment questionnaire in the waiting room in order to quickly identify patients eligible for genetic counseling, genetic testing or MRI. By removing the need for long paper forms, CancerIQ helps providers offer an enhanced patient experience. 


AbbVie biotech companies Chicago

Founded: 2013

Focus: Drug Discovery + Development

What they do: AbbVie is a research-driven biopharmaceutical company dedicated to discovering treatments for a wide range of diseases. The company leverages a variety of technologies and platforms, which are used to discover new ways to treat neurodegenerative diseases and cancers and deliver new medicines. AbbVie is currently focused on developing new treatments for diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease.


MAIA Biotechnology biotech companies Chicago
MAIA Biotechnology

Founded: 2018

Focus: Oncology Drug Development

What they do: MAIA Biotechnology is a target therapy, immuno-oncology company that specializes in the development of first-in-class drugs. The company’s current pipeline of investigational drugs includes possible treatments for prostate cancer, non-small cell lung cancer and ovarian cancer. MAIA Biotechnology is dedicated to developing drugs with novel mechanisms of action that are intended to improve and extend the lives of people with cancer. 


Medexus Pharma USA biotech companies Chicago
Medexus Pharma USA

Founded: 2012

Focus: Drug Development

What they do: Medexus Pharma USA is dedicated to advancing and commercializing therapies for autoimmune diseases, cancer and other near market opportunities. The company’s novel methotrexate drug delivery system is designed to improve tolerability, increase bioavailability and enable patients to manage their own therapy. 


Emalex Biosciences biotech companies Chicago
Emalex Biosciences

Founded: 2018

Focus: Neurological Drug Development

What they do: Emalex Biosciences specializes in developing new treatments for central nervous system movement and fluency disorders. The company’s first development candidate, Ecopipam, is an investigational drug being evaluated in pediatric patients for the treatment of Tourette Syndrome and childhood onset fluency disorder (Stuttering). Emalex Biosciences aims to provide novel treatments to patients with rare diseases, which have limited or no treatment options. 


Icometrix biotech companies Chicago

Founded: 2011

Focus: Neurological Imaging Biomarkers

What they do: Icometrix has developed software that obtains clinically meaningful data from brain MRI and CT scans. The company’s software enables providers to objectively quantify brain white matter abnormalities and accurately evaluate brain structural changes in patients. Icometrix aims to transform care for patients with Multiple Sclerosis, Traumatic Brain Injury, Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurological conditions. 

Photos via Shutterstock, company website screenshots and social media. This article was originally published in 2020.

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