Whether students in MEM know it or not, Northwestern is at the heart of the midwest entrepreneurial ecosystem and there are many measures and pieces of evidence to support this. Some of the data is a bit anecdotal, several Northwestern student teams organized themselves to participate in the Clean Energy Trust Challenge. The presentation ideas were phenomenal. We have had a great legacy of winning teams including NUMAT, SINODE, AMPY and most recently Hazel Technologies who took home the top prize of $500k.
As a final piece of data, I will share what a venture capitalist recently told one of my classes, as of 2015, for the first time in measured history, the amount of venture capital raised in the Great Lakes region has exceeded the amount of money raised in Silicon Valley. I know this is hard to believe, but the more interesting question is about more than just quantity of funds, but the type of startup you tend to find in the midwest. I would like to think that when it comes to hard science and long gestation type startups, the midwest is a better place to start this type of business. Given the living costs in the valley, it seems that engineers are beginning to flock to the midwest to work on the startup of their choice. If you doubt this, try googling ‘silicon prairie” to see what you can discover about this booming ecosystem.