From the Director’s Desk: Silicon Valley in Chicago

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When it comes to entrepreneurship, Silicon Valley is the absolute contender in the category in the U.S. Whereas A recent WIRED article brings up the question asking if Silicon Valley as the center of technology startup could ever be duplicated. How wide is the gap between the Silicon Valley and other startup ecosystems? Does Chicago have the potential to be the next innovation hub? If we take metropolitan area GDP growth and population size as two indicators of opportunity, Chicago, as the third largest city following New York and Los Angeles, generated 640.7 billion U.S. dollar GDP in 2015, which outbeat Washington DC(491.0B), Boston(396.5B) and Philadelphia(411.2B) in a roll, and is bested by Seattle(313.7B) only in the category of growth rate. Compared with Silicon Valley and the bigger Bay Area(785.5B), Chicago’s GDP was only about 5% smaller but the growth is considerably less. It is hard for Chi-town to beat the GDP growth rate in the Bay Area.

The question is still thought provoking. While I do not perceive Chicago as anywhere near the opportunities in digital as does the valley at the moment, we should have a competitive posture for Chicago in clean tech industry and sectors such as fin tech and ag tech, as there are pockets of opportunity starting to bloom.

Steve and I are scheduled to visit mHUB, a maker like incubator on the North side of Chicago, and will give you an update after our session with them. We had a great meeting with Climate Corp, an ag-tech startup also on the North side of Chicago, which was recently acquired by Monsanto, a global modern agricultural biotech company, but allowed to continue to operate out of their Chicago headquarters.

Resource: Bureau of Economic Analysis

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